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Wyoming Court Records

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How Does the Wyoming Supreme Court Work?

In Wyoming, the Supreme Court has the highest authority on matters of state law. It is known as the Court of Last Resort. Only the United States Supreme Court can appeal the Wyoming Supreme Court decisions, which are typically final unless concerning federal law. The Wyoming Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over:

  • Appeals by right or writ of cases from lower courts and administrative agencies
  • Appeals by permission or writ
  • Death penalty appeals

The Wyoming Supreme Court reviews appeals of criminal and civil cases heard in lower courts. In addition to its appellate role, the Wyoming Supreme Court also plays a supervisory role in the state’s lower courts. In performing its duties as the appellate court, the Wyoming Supreme Court has the authority to issue. Examples of such writs include certiorari, mandamus, habeas corpus, review, and prohibition.

Parties who appeal a case to the Wyoming Supreme Court must follow the rules and procedures laid out in the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure. For example, appellants and attorneys must file a notice of appeal on time. The notice must contain information such as:

  • Names of the parties to the case
  • The nature of the case, whether parties may appeal it or not
  • The court that is appealing the case

To decide on a case, the Wyoming Supreme Court may follow examples or precedents set by existing laws or previous, similar topics. In instances where there are no prior cases or exact, existing laws, the court will consider the most closely applied rules. In cases where the court determines that a current statute does not meet the requirements of the Wyoming State Constitution or the US Constitution, the Wyoming Supreme Court may declare it unconstitutional.

Wyoming Supreme Court justices are appointed by the State Governor, upon the nomination of the Judicial Nominating Commission and serve eight-year terms. The Wyoming Judicial Nominating Commission comprises seven members, including the state Supreme Court Justice, three members (non-attorneys) appointed by the state governor, and three members of the Wyoming State Bar. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court serves as the chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission.

When there is a vacancy in the Wyoming Supreme Court, the Judicial Nominating Commission presents a list of qualified candidates from which the State Governor then makes an appointment. After the appointed justice has served in office for one year, the justice must contest in an election. If the judge wins the retention election, it is possible to serve in office for the usual eight-year term. Wyoming Supreme Court justices who choose to serve after the first eight-year term must contest for retention in non-partisan elections.

The qualification requirements to be a Wyoming Supreme Court justice include:

  • The candidate must have at least nine (9) years of legal experience.
  • The candidate must be at least 30 years old.
  • The candidate must be a US citizen.
  • The candidate must be a Wyoming resident for at least three (3) years.

The retirement age for justices in Wyoming is 70. The Wyoming Supreme Court has five justices, including one Chief justice and four Associate Justices. All five judges select a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from among the justices. Wyoming Chief Justices serves for four (4) years. The Chief Justice also represents the Supreme Court in commissions and presides at conferences and court meetings.

The Wyoming Supreme Court oversees the Administrative Office of the Courts. The State Court Administrator manages court budgets, including payrolls, technology, court property, human resources, and provides other services to assist the Supreme Court and different courts in the state in the performance of judiciary functions.

In the Wyoming Supreme Court, there are also staff attorneys who assist the Supreme Court justices. The staff attorneys offer assistance by checking the research presented by attorneys in appellate briefs and preparing memoranda summarizing the facts, legal issues, and laws involved in the case. Staff attorneys may also listen to the oral arguments presented in an appeal case and assist in composing the argument’s questions. After the Supreme Court justices decide a matter, the staff attorney is responsible for collaborating with the judges to draft an opinion. When the Supreme Court justices have reviewed the opinion, the staff attorney must read through and make necessary updates before the opinion is published. If the Supreme Court justices cannot agree on the statement, a staff attorney will be required to write an argument to that effect.

The Board of Judiciary Policy and Administration, created by the Wyoming Supreme Court, administratively supervises courts in the state. The board also sets policies and rules for the Wyoming Judiciary. The three subcommittees of the board are:

  • The Courtroom Technology Committee, which focuses on technology standards, legislation review, and user experience
  • The Judicial Education Committee, which helps to develop educational programs for the judiciary, thereby supporting the continuous development of the members of the judiciary
  • Court Automation Committee, which focuses on implementing technology to improve court processes and ease of access to court records

The Wyoming Supreme Court Clerk is responsible for collecting court fees, distributing court orders and opinions, and keeping case records. The Supreme Court Clerk is an appointee of the Supreme Court. Parties interested in obtaining the Wyoming Supreme Court judgments and opinions may contact the Supreme Court Clerk. Interested members of the public may also visit the Wyoming Supreme Court at the following address:

Wyoming Supreme Court
2301 Capitol Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Phone: (307) 777–7316
Fax: (307) 777–6129

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