Sadler v. WyomingAnnotate this Case
Appellant Justin Sadler was convicted by jury of aggravated assault. Prior to his state trial, Sadler was convicted in federal court of being a felon in possession of a firearm, based on the same circumstances that gave rise to his state charges. The State indicated that it would seek to admit this prior conviction under W.R.E. 609(b) if Sadler testified. The district court reserved ruling on whether Sadler’s federal conviction would be admissible, however, it observed that if Sadler denied possessing the firearm, the probative value of the prior conviction “escalates off the charts.” Sadler elected not to testify at trial. On appeal of his state charges, Sadler challenged the propriety of the district court’s comments, claiming that the court improperly chilled the exercise of his constitutional right to defend himself by testifying on his own behalf. Because he did not preserve the issue he raised on appeal, the Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed.