Rammell brand inspection appeal continues
Sublette County – Although county and state attorneys argued Veterinarian Rex F. Rammell’s appeal in Ninth District Court of four brand inspection convictions and sentences was untimely and improper, the judge disagreed.
In Sublette County’s possibly longest-running misdemeanor case, Rammell was charged on June 27, 2019, with violating the state required brand inspection law by trailering four horses and a colt from Sweetwater County to Sublette County for summer grazing.
The law is Wyoming Statute 11-21-103, which Rammell has argued as unconstitutional search and seizure. He was cited for four violations although multiple livestock often appear on one brand inspection form.
Rammell pleaded not guilty and has represented himself since 2019 in various courtrooms. Initially, Sublette County Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws assigned the case to Magistrate Clay Kainer, who ruled in Rammell’s favor that the law overreached the veterinarian’s constitutional rights. However, Kainer was not properly appointed at the time and his ruling to suppress the deputy’s stop as evidence against Rammell was overturned.
Finally, on May 26, 2021, Rammell appeared before a six-person jury with Third Circuit Court Judge Gregory Corpening presiding: The jury found him guilty. Corpening sentenced Rammell to pay a total of $3,000 in fines, which is part of Rammell’s appeal.
Rammell also filed a petition in Ninth District Court asking Judge Marv Tyler to rule on the state law’s constitutionality. The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office (AGO) began participating in the case early on due to the question of constitutionality.
Judge Tyler is presiding over Rammell’s appeal and the separate civil case seeking judgment on the law’s constitutionality.
Oral arguments were set for Oct. 18, 2021 with Rammell, Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson and AGO’s Senior Attorney Jonathan Sater. When Crosson voiced his intent to file a written motion to dismiss Rammell’s appeal, the judge took it under advisement.
In his Dec. 9 decision and order, Judge Tyler reviewed Rammell’s notices of appeal filed June 17 in Circuit Court and July 16 in District Court. The attorneys’ motion to dismiss Rammell’s appeal indicated Rammell did not designate his record properly with Circuit Court or establish jurisdiction in District Court.
Judge Tyler reviewed legal briefs and ruled that he did name the proper jurisdiction and despite an error, he can challenge the law’s constitutionality.
“The court will not make an advance ruling as to whether Rammell has set forth the proper standard of review on appeal based upon the issues that he has characterized,” the judge wrote. “However, the state’s contention that Rammell ‘failed to articulate the appropriate standard of review for the court to … appropriately consider his appeal’ is unavailing.”
Judge Tyler considered the state’s argument that Rammell’s appeal “is unfit for judicial review.”
“The state asserts that the court should, as a threshold matter, refuse to consider the merit or weight of Rammell’s arguments,” he wrote. “The court will deny and relief sought by the state’s motion since this issue is unfit for any pre-determination of the merit or weight of Rammell’s contentions.”
As for the timing of Rammell’s designation of the Circuit Court record to the District Court appeal, Judge Tyler noted “a monetary sanction” was not an option he could use. Not following a certain requirement did not mean Rammell’s appeal can’t be heard, Tyler added.
“The failure to comply with any other rule of appellate procedure for any order of court does not affect the validity of the appeal” and his court could refuse to consider “the opposing party’s contentions.”
Judge Tyler denied all of the state’s requests.
“This appeal should be determined upon its merits,” he wrote. “Accordingly, Rammell and the state may file any supplemental briefs” with a new schedule.
Rammell had until Jan. 7 to file a supplemental brief in Ninth District Court, properly designate the record and serve those to Crosson and Sater.
Crosson and Sater have until Feb. 4 to respond. Then, due to “good cause,” the AGO has until Feb. 25 to file any supplemental briefs. Rammell in turn will file his reply by March 18.
Joy Ufford is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.