Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, No. 95-314

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore TAYLOR; THOMAS
Citation932 P.2d 734
Decision Date24 January 1997
Docket NumberNo. 95-314
PartiesLarry GRIESS, Appellant (Petitioner), v. OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, DIVISION OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, Appellee (Respondent).

Page 734

932 P.2d 734
Larry GRIESS, Appellant (Petitioner),
v.
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, DIVISION OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, Appellee (Respondent).
No. 95-314.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
Jan. 24, 1997.

Rodger McDaniel, of McDaniel Law Offices, Cheyenne, for appellant (petitioner).

William U. Hill, Attorney General; Paul Rehurek, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Lou Piccioni, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee (respondent).

Before TAYLOR, C.J., and THOMAS, MACY, GOLDEN * and LEHMAN, JJ.

Page 735

THOMAS, Justice.

The accuracy of the interpretation of a statute by the Division of Criminal Investigation in the Office of the Attorney General (Division) is the focal issue in this case. Larry Griess (Griess) contends that the Division did not properly apply language in WYO. STAT. § 6-8-104 (Supp.1994) in denying his application for a permit to carry a concealed firearm. The particular statutory language reads, "the applicant has been or is reasonably likely to be a danger to himself or others, or to the community at large as a result of the applicant's mental or psychological state, as demonstrated by a past pattern or practice of behavior, or participation in incidents involving a controlled substance, alcohol abuse, violence or threats of violence as these incidents relate to criteria listed in this section." The Division invoked a single incident involving a threat of suicide by Griess to deny his application, and Griess argues that the statute requires a "pattern or practice of behavior" or multiple incidents. He also asserts a collateral issue involving the failure of the Division to advise him of its final decision within a twenty-day period mandated by the statute. The district court affirmed the denial by the Division of Griess' application for a concealed weapons permit, holding that the Division's decision was justified by the single incident. We affirm the decision of the district court.

In his Brief of Appellant, Griess defines the issues as:

Argument I:

The Division of Criminal Investigation acted arbitrarily and capriciously and not in accordance with W.S. 6-8-104(g) in denying the permit.

Argument II:

The denial of the permit by the DCI must be set aside for the failure of the Appellee to timely process the Applicant's Petition for Reconsideration.

The Brief of Appellee filed on behalf of the Division suggests a single issue:

Whether the decision by the Division of Criminal Investigation to deny Appellant a concealed firearm permit was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with WYO. STAT. § 6-8-104(g)?

In January 1995, Griess applied for a concealed firearm permit. As provided by WYO. STAT. § 6-8-104(e), the application was submitted to the Laramie County Sheriff, who forwarded it to the Division along with the written report required by WYO. STAT. § 6-8-104(g). The sheriff's report recommended denial of the permit application by the Division because of a 1988 suicide threat. On February 20, 1988, three deputies of the Laramie County Sheriff's Department were summoned to the Griess home. They found Griess locked in a room with a firearm and a suicide note on the door. The deputies persuaded Griess to surrender his firearm and took him to the hospital, where Griess committed himself voluntarily for diagnosis and counseling.

The letter the Division sent to Griess on March 8, 1995, advised him:

Your application for a Wyoming concealed firearm permit has been denied based upon the recommendation of the Laramie County Sheriff. Per Wyoming statute 6-8-104(m)(ii), the division shall deny the application based on the grounds that the applicant fails to qualify under the criteria listed in this section or upon reasonable grounds for denial specified under subsection (g) of this section. The written report provided by the sheriff, as required by subsection (g), provides reasonable grounds that the applicant may be a danger to himself based on the suicide threat of February 20, 1988. (Laramie County Sheriff's Department case number 88-0580.)

Per Wyoming statute 6-8-104(m)(ii), any applicant denied a permit has the right to submit, within thirty (30) days, any additional documentation relating to the grounds for denial. Upon receiving any additional documentation, the division shall reconsider its decision and inform the applicant within twenty (20) days of the result of the reconsideration. The applicant also has the right to seek review of the denial in the district court pursuant to the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act, W.S. 16-3-101 through 16-3-115.

Page 736

Griess wrote to the Division on March 14, 1995, and explained that in 1988 he had suffered from depression as a result of heart bypass surgery and early retirement from the fire department. He said that the combination of events had precipitated his suicide threat, and that he had checked into the hospital voluntarily and had been released after two weeks. Griess stated he no longer was a danger to himself or anyone else, and he requested reconsideration of the application. The Division reconsidered Griess' application, and on April 18, 1995, which was more than twenty days after Griess' request for reconsideration, the Division informed Griess of its final decision to deny his application.

Griess appealed to the district court. After review, the district court held the Division's decision to deny Griess' application for a concealed firearm permit was not contrary to WYO. STAT. § 6-8-104, because his threat to use a gun to commit suicide provided reasonable grounds for the denial pursuant to WYO. STAT. § 6-8-104(g) and (m)(ii). Griess appeals from the Order Affirming Respondent's Decision Denying Petitioner's Application for a Concealed Firearm Permit entered in the district court.

Our review of administrative action or inaction is confined to the record and is limited by WYO. R. APP. P. 12.09(a) to those matters specified in WYO. STAT. § 16-3-114(c) (1990) (emphasis added) which provides in pertinent part:

(c) * * * the reviewing court shall decide all relevant questions of * * * law, interpret * * * statutory provisions, and determine the meaning or applicability of the terms of an agency action. In making the following determinations, the court shall review the whole record or those parts of it cited by a party and due account shall be taken of the rule of prejudicial error. The reviewing court shall:

* * *

(ii) Hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings and conclusions found to be:

(A) Arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law[.]

In our review, we afford no deference to the decision of the district court. As we said in Casper Iron & Metal, Inc. v. Unemployment Ins. Com'n, 845 P.2d 387, 392 (Wyo.1993):

We review the agency decision without according any special deference to the district court decision. Union Pacific R.R. Co. v. Wyoming State Bd. of Equalization, 802 P.2d 856, 859 (Wyo.1990). Using the same evidence and same review standards as the district court, the review conducted by the Wyoming Supreme Court proceeds as if the matter had come directly to us from the agency. Southwest Wyoming Rehabilitation Center v. Employment Sec. Comm'n, 781 P.2d 918, 920 (Wyo.1989); Atchison v. Career Serv. Council, 664 P.2d 18, 20 (Wyo.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 982, 104 S.Ct. 424, 78 L.Ed.2d 359 (1983).

In this instance, we address only the application of the law by the agency. We recently summarized our jurisprudential approach to the resolution of such cases in this way:

The issues on appeal are a matter of law. Pursuant to W.R.A.P. 12.09, our review of an agency action is in accordance with Wyo. Stat. § 16-3-114(c)(ii)(A) (1990) which requires a reviewing court to "[h]old unlawful and set aside agency action, findings and conclusions found to be * * * [a]rbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law[.]" We accord no special deference to the conclusions of the district court, instead reviewing the action as if it came to us directly from the agency. Martinez v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Compensation Div., 917 P.2d 619, 621 (Wyo.1996); Wyoming Steel & Fab, Inc. v. Robles, 882 P.2d 873, 875 (Wyo.1994). If the agency's conclusions of law are correct, its decision will be affirmed. Martinez, 917 P.2d at 621; Matter of Corman, 909 P.2d 966, 970 (Wyo.1996). If the agency has not invoked and applied the correct rule of law, we correct it. Martinez, 917 P.2d at 621; Matter of Gneiting, 897 P.2d 1306, 1308 (Wyo.1995).

Tenorio v. State ex rel. Wyoming Worker's Compensation Div., 931 P.2d 234, 237 (Wyo.1997)

Page 737

. The review by the district court in this instance was thorough, and we agree with the judge's decision affirming the action of the Division.

The Division is authorized to issue a permit to carry a concealed firearm to a qualified person pursuant to WYO. STAT. § 6-8-104 which provides in pertinent part:

(g) The sheriff of the applicant's county of residence shall submit a written report to the division containing any information that he feels may be pertinent to the issuance of a permit to any applicant. The written report shall state facts known to the sheriff which establish reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant has been or is...

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23 practice notes
  • Mueller v. Zimmer, No. 05-9.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 5, 2005
    ...Hermreck v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 938 P.2d 863, 866 (Wyo.1997); Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 736 According to our established standards for interpretation of contracts, the words used in the contract are afforded the plain meaning ......
  • Management Council of Wyoming Legislature v. Geringer, No. 97-307
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 11, 1998
    ...to the plain and unambiguous language to discern that intent. E.g., Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 737 (Wyo.1997); Newton v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Compensation Div., 922 P.2d 863, 865 (Wyo.1996); Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. State, 918 ......
  • Best v. Best, No. S–15–0051.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 30, 2015
    ...847, 852 (Wyo.2005) ; Hermreck v. UPS, 938 P.2d 863, 866 (Wyo.1997) ; Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 736 (Wyo.1997). Moreover, a court's subject matter jurisdiction may be challenged at any time. Harmon, 2014 WY 90, ¶ 14, 331 P.3d at 1178 ;......
  • Seherr-Thoss v. Seherr-Thoss, No. 05-237.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • August 31, 2006
    ...Hermreck v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 938 P.2d 863, 866 (Wyo.1997); Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 736 According to our established standards for interpretation of contracts, the words used in the contract are afforded the plain meaning ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Mueller v. Zimmer, No. 05-9.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 5, 2005
    ...Hermreck v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 938 P.2d 863, 866 (Wyo.1997); Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 736 According to our established standards for interpretation of contracts, the words used in the contract are afforded the plain meaning ......
  • Management Council of Wyoming Legislature v. Geringer, No. 97-307
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 11, 1998
    ...to the plain and unambiguous language to discern that intent. E.g., Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 737 (Wyo.1997); Newton v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Compensation Div., 922 P.2d 863, 865 (Wyo.1996); Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. State, 918 ......
  • Best v. Best, No. S–15–0051.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 30, 2015
    ...847, 852 (Wyo.2005) ; Hermreck v. UPS, 938 P.2d 863, 866 (Wyo.1997) ; Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 736 (Wyo.1997). Moreover, a court's subject matter jurisdiction may be challenged at any time. Harmon, 2014 WY 90, ¶ 14, 331 P.3d at 1178 ;......
  • Seherr-Thoss v. Seherr-Thoss, No. 05-237.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • August 31, 2006
    ...Hermreck v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 938 P.2d 863, 866 (Wyo.1997); Griess v. Office of the Atty. Gen., Div. of Criminal Investigation, 932 P.2d 734, 736 According to our established standards for interpretation of contracts, the words used in the contract are afforded the plain meaning ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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