Urbigkit v. State

In Urbigkit v. State, 67 P. 3d 1207 (Wyo. 2003), published May 7, 2003, the accused, before trial and before jury selection, raised the shackling issue, the prosecution opposed the accused's request to be unrestrained in the courtroom during trial, and the trial court allowed the use of leg restraints in the courtroom during the trial. Although no testimony or evidence was presented that the jurors observed the defendant in shackles, the defendant was in leg restraints, and instructed not to move, when he testified before the jury but away from the witness stand. Id. The Court held that the manner in which the trial court resolved the issue generally complied with the spirit of Asch. Id. The Court held the trial court did not abuse its discretion in requiring the accused to wear leg restraints in the courtroom throughout his trial. Id. "The Court stated the standard of review and summary of Wyoming change-of-venue law: "We review the denial of a motion for change of venue under an abuse of discretion standard, meaning we will not interfere with the trial court's decision unless the trial court acted in a manner exceeding the bounds of reason under the circumstances. Nixon v. State, 994 P.2d 324, 326-27 (Wyo. 1999). The party moving for change of venue has the burden of showing actual prejudice in the minds of the jurors so great that a fair trial cannot be obtained. Id. at 327" The Court summarized the law in Wyoming relating to change of venue as follows: "Criminal defendants in Wyoming have a constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury. Wyoming's constitutional provision grants the right to trial "by an impartial jury of the county or district in which the offense is alleged to have been committed." Wyo. Const. art. 1, 10. The legislative provision mirroring the constitution requires "every criminal case shall be tried in the county in which the indictment or offense charged is found, except as otherwise provided by law." Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-7-102(a). Trial proceedings are transferred to another county "only if the court is satisfied that there exists within the county where the prosecution is pending so great a prejudice against the defendant that the defendant cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial in that county." W.R. Cr. P. 21(a).This Court has adopted a two-part test for determining whether a change of venue should be granted after voir dire because of pre-trial publicity: "'First, the nature and extent of the publicity must be considered; second, the difficulty or ease in selecting a jury must be considered along with the amount of prejudice which actually appears during voir dire examination.'" Sides v. State, 963 P.2d 227, 231 (Wyo. 1998) (quoting Murry v. State, 713 P.2d 202, 208 (Wyo. 1986)..."