In Wyoming, Republicans have a tradition of their legislative leaders serving how many terms?
Give one negative and one positive aspect of the tradition described in Question #106.
In Wyoming, Republicans have a tradition of their legislative leaders serving how many terms?
Positive because more people get a chance to lead. However, ever changing leadership ensures that the legislative branch will remain fairly weak as compared with the executive branch.
The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House wield a lot of power. T/F
F. In actuality, they merely conduct the legislative sessions. They also appoint people to various committees. But, the majority leaders have even more power than them (they get to decide the order in which bills are presented).
What are legislative committees?
They are committees comprised of various members of the legislature. Proposed bills are referred to the proper committee during the Committee Consideration step that all proposed bills must go through. Every member of the legislature serves on a couple committees.
Name the 12 standing committees in both the House and the Senate.
Agriculture, Public Lands & Water Resources; Appropriations; Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions; Education; Journal; Judiciary; Labor, Health & Social Services; Minerals, Business & Economic Development; Revenue; Rules & Procedures; Transportation & Highways; Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources
What committee do all legislators want to serve on?
The Joint Appropriations Committee (JAC) – made up of legislators from both the House and Senate
Who conducts the business of a standing committee?
The committee chair
What is the JAC in charge of?
It has dominant influence over the size and content of the state’s budget.
Give two reasons the JAC is so influential.
Those appointed to the JAC have more knowledge about the state budget. And, those appointed to it are appointed by the majority leadership, who make sure that the members will do what the majority party wants, so they’re rarely ever contested anyway.
What does LSO stand for?
Legislative Service Office
What is the purpose of the LSO?
To help provide legislators with information so they will be able to make better informed decisions. They also monitor the executive branch and carry out orders of the legislature. (Like legislative gophers)
Name the three sections that the LSO is divided into.
Budget and Fiscal Section – conducts budget analysis and works closely with the JAC. The Program Evaluation Division – conducts systematic reviews of governmental programs to see whether or not they are functioning as they were designed. The Legal Services Division – provides research for standing committees and the lawyers in this division may even write bills at the request of legislators.
What does constituent opinion mean?
The opinions and desires of those being represented (the people).
Give four reasons why constituent opinion is often more of a value than a reality in the legislature.
First, the constituents (the people) often don’t have opinions on many of the bills because they aren’t informed. Second, the people are often divided on topics. Third, many legislators refuse to vote against what they believe is right, even if the people want it. And fourth, the people often don’t make it known to legislators what they want.
The authority of the Wyoming Executive Branch, unlike that of the federal Executive Branch, is divided up and apportioned to how many different elected officials?
Name all of the elected officials in Wyoming.
Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, and Superintendent of Public Instruction
How many years make up a term for elected executive officials?
What is the term limit for elected executive officials?
Two terms (8 years)
Give the two requirements for running for Wyoming State Governor.
Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and resident of the state for at least five years. And, they must be at least 30 years of age.
Name and explain the seven roles of the Wyoming Governor.
1. National Guard commander-in-chief – governs Wyoming National Guard. 2. Grants Pardons – to convicts if he feels so inclined. 3. Vetoes legislative bills or parts of appropriations bills only – (appropriations bills are the only ones he can veto just a portion of; otherwise it’s all or nothing where bills are concerned). 4. Chief Budget Officer – he develops a financial plan for the state government which must be approved by the legislature – does this every two years. 5. Chief Federal Program Officer – monitors the state’s compliance with federal programs when federal money/grants are involved. 6. Wyoming’s Lobbyist to the Federal Government – looks out for the state’s needs on a federal level. 7. Chief Spokesman for his Party – even if he isn’t technically the official head of the party – this is due to the vast amounts of media coverage he receives – he, therefore must represent his party well – this includes in his appointments of individuals to public office.
Is the Governor in Wyoming considered to be a “weak” governor or a “strong” one? Give four reasons why?
In the middle. He can only serve two terms – weakens him. The powers of the executive branch are divided five ways – in some states the governor holds all of the executive power, in others, the power can be split as much as eight ways – in the middle. He has exclusive budget authority, but not over all programs – in the middle. He can appoint almost all of the directors of state departments – strengthens him.
Cite the three roles of the Secretary of State in Wyoming.
First, he serves as governor in the governor’s absence. Second, he supervises public elections to make sure everything proceeds according to law. This contributes to his overseeing the county clerks in the 23 counties of Wyoming. Third, through the Securities Division of the Secretary of State, he charters Wyoming corporations and certifies all out-of-state corporations that do business in Wyoming.
What is the role of Wyoming’s Auditor?
He is responsible for ensuring that the fiscal operations of the state are in compliance with all applicable laws. This includes conducting audits of state agencies and of mineral production in the state.
Cite the two roles of the State Treasurer.
He keeps records of all state money. And, he invests it for the state.
What is the role of the Superintendant of Public Instruction in the state of Wyoming?
He is responsible for Wyoming’s public school system and administers the State Dept. of Education.
What is the name of the governmental entity that links the Superintendant of Public Instruction to the rest of state government?
The State Board of Education
Who makes up the State Board of Education?
Officials appointed by the governor.
What is the role of the State Board of Education?
They collaborate and share authority with the Superintendant of Public Instruction on all educational matters.
Describe the cabinet form of government used in the Wyoming executive branch.
All executive agencies were reorganized into 12 different departments, the heads of which are appointed by the governor and form his cabinet. They advise him on matters pertaining to their agency. Proposed bills referring to these same agencies are reviewed by the twelve standing committees at legislative sessions.
Name the three major sources of revenue in the state of Wyoming.
Taxes, interest (from money invested by the state treasurer), and intergovernmental transfers (money received from other levels of government – like federal grants or money off of mineral production from federal lands within the state).
How are funds distributed?
They’re all distributed to specific funds, which are then distributed as needed. As to which funds the money is originally transferred is mandated by specific laws. All funds are for specific purposes, except for the General Fund.
What is the General Fund?
It’s like a checking account that covers all state agencies. Money is withdrawn from it as needed.
Give one advantage and one disadvantage of having laws that mandate exactly to which funds money is transferred.
Advantage – no debates over how much money each fund should get. Disadvantage – plenty of debates over how the General Fund should be distributed.
Name, from the most prestigious to the least, the four types of courts which comprise the Judiciary Branch in the State of Wyoming.
The Supreme Court (1), District Courts (9), Circuit Courts, Municipal Courts.
Whom/what do municipal courts serve?
All incorporated cities and towns within the state. (Even Lyman.)
What kinds of cases are tried in municipal courts?
Criminal cases only – not civil cases.
Are the types of criminal cases limited in municipal courts? Explain.
Yes. They can only try “small” stuff committed within the town or city.
What is the maximum fine/jail sentence imposed by municipal courts?
$750 or six months in county jail
Are municipal judges required to be lawyers?
If a case goes to trial in a municipal court, how many people make up the jury?
To where to appeals from a municipal court go?
To the Circuit Court.
What kinds of cases are tried in Circuit Courts?
Civil and Criminal – all those dealing with state laws. They cannot try felonies, however. They can even handle serious civil or criminal cases if requested to do so by a District Judge. May also try all municipal cases in their assigned county at the request of the municipal governing authority and with permission from the Supreme Court.
What is a felony?
A criminal offense for which the penalty is imprisonment in a state institution for more than a year.
Circuit Judges can hear any case within their district boundaries, even if it’s not in their own county. T/F
Are circuit judges required to be lawyers?
How many years make up the term of a Circuit Court judge?
How are judges chosen?
By the Missouri Plan
What is the Missouri Plan?
It’s a four-step plan used to select judges at the circuit, district and supreme levels. Step 1: Nomination – Power to nominate a judge belongs to the Wyoming Judicial Nominating Commission, which is made up of seven members – the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, three practicing attorneys elected by the Wyoming State Bar, and three non-lawyers appointed by the governor. (All members have four year terms.) No holders of political office or party officers are permitted to serve on the commission (aside from the Chief Justice). This Commission then draws up a list of three names to fill a vacancy. Step 2: Appointment – The Governor picks one of the three names on the list from the Judicial Nominating Committee. If he doesn’t pick one in 30 days, the Chief Justice gets to. Step 3: Retention – The Governor’s appointee serves for at least one year, after which the general public votes on whether to “retain” him or not. Step 4: Further Retention – The judge must be “retained” by the voters after each term if he wishes to stay in office.
What is a magistrate?
He is like a mini circuit judge and is appointed by a circuit judge and acts as one but can only try “smaller” cases. He can also only be appointed in counties where there is no resident circuit judge. He can only work in his county and his appointment must be approved by the board of County Commissioners in his county. He also does not have to be a lawyer and must be retained by the public after each term and after his first year in office – just like all judges. Their term is four years.
Give one seemingly unrelated benefit of circuit courts.
They collect revenue for local educational agencies.
What types of civil cases are dealt with in district courts?
Cases dealing with claims over large amounts of money and also family-related court (i.e. child custody, divorce, adoptions, etc.)
What types of criminal cases are dealt with in district courts?
Felonies and capital offenses.
What other types of cases are done in district courts?
Cases involving juvenile misconduct, granting of citizenship to aliens, and appeals from Circuit Courts.
How are district court judges chosen?
The Missouri Plan
What is the term for a district judge?
What are the legal requirements for being a district judge?
Must be at least 28 years old, state resident for at least 2 years, and must be a lawyer.
What are district court commissioners and what do they do?
Lawyers who are appointed by the district judge to help them in the matters of court cases which are normally performed outside of the court.
Are the majority of cases tried in district courts original cases or lower-court appeals?
Original trial cases by far.
Are the majority of cases tried in the Supreme Court original cases or lower-court appeals?
Appeals from lower courts.
Does the Supreme Court have a far-reaching original jurisdiction?
No. Many state constitutional limitations are placed upon it.
By whom is the membership of the Supreme Court composed of?
4 justices and one chief justice.
How are the justices and chief justices chosen?
5 justices are first chosen to serve on the Supreme Court by the Missouri Plan. Then, the five justices select one among them to serve as the chief justice.
What is the length of term for justices and the chief justice?
Justices serve for 8 years—chief justices for 4
What are the legal requirements for being a justice?
One must be a lawyer with at least 9 years of legal experience, at least 30 years old, and a state resident for at least 3 years
Historically, has the impact of the Supreme Court on policy-making been major or minor?
What is the Board of Judicial Policy and Administration and what does it do?
It is the state committee which organizes and executes the court systems in Wyoming.
By whom is the Board of Judicial Policy and Administration composed of?
3 judges a piece from the Supreme Court, district courts, and circuit courts.
What is a court administrator and what does he/she do?
Employed by the Supreme Court justices and is in of many of the Supreme Court’s non-judicial tasks (i.e. monitoring lower courts, budget, statistical analyses of past cases, purchase of court property, etc.)
Is the court system in Wyoming funded and organized primarily by the state or the various town governments in the state? Has it always been this way?
It is funded and organized entirely by the state. This has not always been the case; it is a fairly recent change.
By what standard are judges to base their decisions?
The law only. It is difficult to find judges who are willing to throw away their own personal biases and operate in this way.
What is the importance of judicial independence?
It is important that a judge is in a secure enough position to be able to freely make decisions in accordance with the law without having any part of his life or career threatened, so that he is not pressured to make decisions on a more political basis and can, thereby, ensure that the fragile checks and balances system remains intact.
What is the importance of political accountability?
All elected public officials are obligated to represent the desires of their constituents. If they do not, the people may choose to remove them from office.
What is the conflict of judicial independence vs. judicial accountability?
Because judges are elected officials, they are obligated to represent the voice of the people. However, it is their duty to decide cases in accordance with the laws prescribed in the Constitution. These decisions can often conflict. The constituents of the judge may desire a decision that is unconstitutional. Therefore, a judge might well be tempted to rule out of favor with the structure of the Constitution.
Before 1972, what was the method of selecting judges? After?
Popular election—the Missouri Plan after 1972 (see answer #153).
How is the problem solved with the Missouri Plan?
It is solved because the people cannot choose a judge or justice. Therefore a judge/justice is not as concerned about being “re-elected” because there is no election involved. This gives him greater ease in ruling independent of his constituents’ wishes. However, the people still have some power in the selection judges because, while they cannot elect any judges/justices, they can choose to retain the ones selected. This then does not destroy the democratic process involved in the judicial system and forces Wyoming judges/justices to be reasonably accountable to the voice of their constituents.
Since 1972, has it been rare or frequent for the people to choose to not retain a judge/justice, and has it been common or uncommon for judges/justices to dedicate much time and money in toward the goal of retention?
Rare and uncommon.
How does politics still creep in the processes of the Missouri Plan?
The governor makes the final selection, so he may choose the candidate that best fits in with his political ideals, and he also chooses the three non-lawyers to serve on the Judicial Nominating Commission. The same can be said for the chief justice who selects the 3 nominees for the governor to choose from. Also the Wyoming State Bar has similar influence through their ability to select the three lawyers to serve on the Commission.
What is the dilemma surrounding judicial discipline?
There must be an ordained way of disciplining a judge who really is making corrupt decisions, yet, at the same time, he also must be protected against unfair penalties anytime he is obligated to make “unpopular” decisions
Describe the process of impeachment in solving this dilemma.
The House of Representatives may, by majority vote, choose to impeach a particular judge for improper conduct. The accused judge is then tried by the Senate and may be thrown out of office by a 2/3rds vote.
Has the process of impeachment ever been used in Wyoming’s history? Why or why not?
It has not. It is an incredibly slow process; plus, all other legislative business must be discontinued during the impeachment process. Also, impeachment charges are limited only to criminal conduct on the part of a judge. Impeachment can do nothing to combat politically-related judicial decisions, intemperate actions, neglect of duty, or unfit health to perform duties.
What are other methods for disciplining judges?
A forced retirement age of 70 and the Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics.
May a judge ever assume duties again after age 70, and may he retire before age 70?
He may if requested by the government and with his consent. He may also retire before 70.
What is the Commission on Judicial conduct and Ethics and by whom is it composed of?
It is a state committee charged with the responsibility to correct and discipline “problem” judges. It is composed of 3 resident attorneys chosen by the Wyoming State Bar, 6 resident non-lawyers selected by the governor with the consent of the state Senate, and three active judges not on the Supreme Court selected by all the active, full-time judges in the state.
How long is the term of a member on the Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics?
How does the Commission discipline judges?
The Commission may have hearings to determine if certain judicial actions made by a specific judge were unethical and then recommendation to the Supreme Court made be made requesting specific disciplinary action to be taken against the accused judge. The Supreme Court then makes the decision as to what disciplinary measures, if any, shall be put into effect.
How is a criminal case started?
Police or a prosecuting attorney submits a complaint or information requesting a court trial.
Who issues search warrants, and how are they obtained?
A circuit court judge or magistrate. Police submit probable cause for believing that the search of certain properties would yield evidence leading to a better understanding of if a crime was actually committed and/or who committed said crime. The circuit court judge or magistrate reviews submitted probable cause and makes decision to grant or deny search warrant.
Who issues arrest warrants, and how are they obtained?
Municipal court judges or district court judges and magistrates. Police or a prosecuting attorney submits probable cause for belief that a certain person committed a certain crime. The judge/magistrate reviews statement and decides upon the issuance or rejection of arrest warrant.
How is a person accused of a crime notified?
When accused of a crime, the accused is brought before the circuit court or magistrate as soon as possible where he is notified of the accusation(s) brought against him/her.
What else is done in the initial appearance of the accused before the judge?
The accused is also notified of his right, and bail is set by the judge
What are some rights that an accused criminal is entitled to?
The right to remain silent, to be warned that anything they say may used against them in court, and, in serious cases, a trial by jury. Also, when conviction could result in jail or prison term or death, the accused has a right to a lawyer and, if need be, one provided by the state.
What is a preliminary hearing?
In the case of a felony trial, there is a preliminary hearing where it is determined if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused committed the said crime.
Where are preliminary hearings conducted and where is the actual felony trial conducted?
Preliminary hearing are conducted in the circuit courts with a circuit court judge or magistrate, and if probable cause is verified, the felony trial will normally be held in the district court. If probable cause is not verified, the accused is released.
May someone ever be accused of the same felony more than once?
Only if the case was dismissed after the preliminary hearing. A prosecuting attorney or police may re-submit further probable cause for believing the before-accused has actually committed the before-considered crime. It is then up to the circuit court judge to grant or deny such claims and an arrest warrant. If the accused was actually tried in a district court for a felony and proclaimed innocent, he may not be accused for the same crime again.
What is the arraignment and when does it take place?
The arraignment is the accused’s formal plea. It is done during the actual trial.
What is the result of a guilty plea?
The judge imposes sentence.
What is the result of a not guilty plea?
The judge schedules trial.
What is a plea-bargain?
It is a method of dismissing cases before they reach trial. The prosecuting attorney strikes a deal with the defending attorney where charges against the accused will be dropped or sentencing be requested to be more lenient in exchange for a guilty plea from the accused and no trial.
What are a plaintiff and defendant?
A plaintiff is someone who files a complaint in court against another person, the defendant. The plaintiff demands monetary compensation for alleged wrongs committed against on the part of the defendant.
What is the result of a filed civil complaint?
The court issues a summons to the defendant describing the complaint brought against him, the defendant is given a certain amount of time to respond to the summons.
What are the defendant’s options when charged with a civil complaint?
He may do nothing, which will award the plaintiff with the desired sum of money. He may contest his innocence by arguing the factual or legal validity of the complaint. Along with that, he may also submit a counter-claim against the plaintiff or a cross-claim. The plaintiff then may then choose to answer against any of the defendant’s actions.
What is a counter-claim?
A counter-claim is a claim made by a defendant against the plaintiff of a civil court case in response to a complaint filed by the plaintiff against him.
What is a cross-claim?
A claim made by a defendant in a civil court case in which responsibility for a certain wrongdoing against the plaintiff is argued by the defendant to be transferred from him to another person.
Relating to a civil court case, what is discovery?
Discovery is the act performed by both sides to request information from the other party in the lawsuit.
What are some examples of discovery?
Oral deposition—a sworn statement or testimony written down and signed. Interrogatories—written questions. Physical or mental examinations. Request for certain documents.
Are there any limitations as to the information that one party can request from another?
Yes. Parties are not entitled to privileged information from the other party, which is simply very private interactions between the party and others, such as interactions between husbands and wives, doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, and ecclesiastical leaders and their confidants.
What is a pre-trial conference?
Parties in a civil case may agree to hold a pre-trial conference. In this conference, they may agree to place certain modifications or limitations on the proceedings of the future trial. For example, they may simplify the issues in dispute, limit the number of witnesses, sign written statements showing agreeance between both parties on various facts, etc. The proceedings of this conference are recorded by the court and the prescribed conditions will be placed into effect at trial.
T/F—Trials in civil court and criminal are very similar.
T/F—The right to a trial by jury is limited to more major, high-stakes court cases.
F. Any party involved in a court case wishing for a trial by jury may almost always be guaranteed that privilege. Wyoming state law strongly protects this right.
What is the size of a jury for a district court felony trial, trials in other courts, and all civil trials?
Jury size is 12 in district court felony trials and 6 for all other court trials and all civil case trials.
What is a jury panel?
It is a group of many people selected to be on jury duty for a six-month term.
Who selects jurors for court cases, and how are they selected?
The required number of qualified jurors who are disinterested in the case are selected by the judge and attorneys involved the case from the jury panel.
What is the jury selection process known as?
What are the phases of a trial?
Opening statements from both sides, presentations of evidence from both sides (begun by the plaintiff), closing statements, decision, and sentencing. Sentencing, obviously, is only conducted of the defendant is found guilty. Otherwise he is released and the process ends at the decision.
Who is the plaintiff in criminal cases?
How are decisions made?
If no jury, the judge reviews the facts and makes a decision in accordance with the law. If a jury is involved, then after closing arguments, the judge explains the legal rules pertaining to the case to the jurors, and the jury then retires and must decide the facts of the case and the legal rules pertaining to these facts. They then announce their decision in the form of a verdict.
How much of a majority among the jury is required to make a decision in a criminal case?
The vote must be unanimous.
How much of a majority among the jury is required to make a decision in a civil case?
It also must be unanimous unless both parties involved have agreed to some other percentage of votes.
What is the difference for the basis of conviction in a criminal and civil case?
A conviction in a criminal case must be based upon proof of guilt which is “beyond any reasonable doubt.” In a civil case, verdicts are made on the basis of deciding for which side the evidence in the case most justifies.
What is a pre-sentence investigation?
When a person is convicted as a criminal, the judge may request an investigation to be done on the criminal’s background in order to arrive at an accurate and fitting punishment.
What is the difference between a sentence and a judgment??
A sentence is prescribed by the judge in a criminal case when the defendant is found guilty. A judgment is prescribed by the judge in a civil case after court decision has been made on the case. The judgment defines the penalties/benefits which will be given to the plaintiff/defendant.