Hearing Held in Herrera Case

(Photo Ron Richter ©)
(Photo Ron Richter ©)

A hearing in Sheridan County Circuit Court was held this week in the case of Clayvin Herrera vs. The State of Wyoming.

Circuit Court Judge Shelley Cundiff made no decision on the case and gave both attorneys a 30-day window to file motions on the matter. The State is being represented by Sheridan County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher LaRosa, while Herrera is being represented by Attorney Kyle Anne Gray.In April of 2016, a six-person jury in Circuit Court found Herrera guilty on charges of knowingly taking an antlered animal out of season in Wyoming and being an accessory after the fact. The Crow tribal member received a suspended jail sentence and was ordered to pay fines in the amount of $8,080.

The case began in 2014, when Herrera and two other tribal members embarked on an elk hunt that began on the Crow tribe's reservation in southern Montana and ultimately crossed into the neighboring Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming, where three elk were shot and killed illegally.

Herrera appealed the sentence, arguing that when his tribe gave up land in present-day Montana and Wyoming under an 1868 treaty, the tribe retained the right to hunt on the land, including land that became Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest. The Treaty of Fort Laramie grants hunting rights to Crow tribal members, who “shall have the right to hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and as long as peace subsists among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts.”

The State of Wyoming argued that the Bighorn National Forest is not “unoccupied” and the Crow tribe's hunting rights ceased to exist as the treaty would have been considered void after Wyoming became a state in 1890 or after establishment of the Bighorn National Forest in 1897.

In April of 2017, Fourth Judicial District Court Judge John Fenn upheld the conviction in Circuit Court a year prior. The case eventually ended up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, where in May of this year, the high court sided with Herrera, and vacated the Court’s judgement, and remanded the case back to the local court for further proceedings.

In August of last year, a Status Hearing was held in Fourth Judicial District Court due to the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Herrera’s appeal and vacated the Court’s judgement, remanding the case back to the local court for further proceedings. District Court Judge Fenn, several weeks after the status hearing, remanded the case to Circuit Court for further proceedings.

SheridanWyoming.com

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