Honeycutt, In re, No. 95-119

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore GOLDEN; LEHMAN
Citation908 P.2d 976
PartiesIn re David Alan HONEYCUTT and Antoinette Marie Honeycutt, a/k/a Antoinette Marie Lentz, Debtors. Timothy KINGSTON, Appellant (Trustee/Objector), v. Antoinette Marie HONEYCUTT, Appellee (Debtor/Respondent).
Docket NumberNo. 95-119
Decision Date28 December 1995

Page 976

908 P.2d 976
In re David Alan HONEYCUTT and Antoinette Marie Honeycutt, a/k/a Antoinette Marie Lentz, Debtors.
Timothy KINGSTON, Appellant (Trustee/Objector),
v.
Antoinette Marie HONEYCUTT, Appellee (Debtor/Respondent).
No. 95-119.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
Dec. 28, 1995.

Page 977

Timothy C. Kingston, Cheyenne, for Appellant.

Georg Jensen of Law Offices of Georg Jensen, Cheyenne, for Appellee.

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

LEHMAN, Justice.

In this case we are asked to answer two questions certified to this court from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Wyoming. The first concerns whether privately established and funded individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are exempt from attachment under W.S. 1-20-110(a)(i)(A) (Cum.Supp.1994). The second asks, if such IRAs are not exempt, whether W.S. 1-20-110(a)(i)(A) violates the provisions of Article 1, Section 34 of the Wyoming Constitution.

We answer both questions in the negative.

FACTS

Antoinette Honeycutt (Debtor), along with her husband, filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Wyoming. Debtor filed a claim of exemption for an individual retirement account, which was acquired in March of 1986 and currently has a value of approximately $2,200. Debtor based her claim of exemption upon W.S. 1-20-110(a)(i)(A). The funds used to acquire and maintain the IRA were from the Debtor's personal earnings. The IRA was not established pursuant to an employer's retirement plan, nor did any employer make contributions to it.

The bankruptcy trustee objected, arguing that the exemption provided by W.S. 1-20-110(a)(i)(A) was not applicable as the IRA in question was not paid or funded by an employer or established pursuant to a contract with an employer. The bankruptcy court then certified the two questions of law before us today.

Page 978

A. Question 1: Whether a person may exempt from execution, attachment or other process, pursuant to Wyo.Stat. § 1-20-110(a)(i)(A) (Supp.1994), an individual retirement account which is neither established by an employer of that person, nor paid to that person as an employee or retired employee[.]

Naturally, we must begin with the language of the statute at issue, W.S. 1-20-110(a)(i)(A):

§ 1-20-110. Exemptions for retirement funds and accounts.

(a) The following are exempt from execution, attachment, garnishment or any other process issued by any court:

(i) Any person's interest in a retirement plan, pension or annuity, whether by way of a gratuity or otherwise, granted, paid or payable:

(A) By any private corporation or employer to an employee or a retired employee under a plan or contract which provides that the pension or annuity shall not be assignable[.]

The determination of the legislature's intent when enacting a statute is this court's primary focus when interpreting a statute. Coones v. F.D.I.C., 894 P.2d 613, 616 (Wyo.1995); Halpern v. Wheeldon, 890 P.2d 562, 564 (Wyo.1995). A statute will be construed as a whole with ordinary and obvious meaning applied to words as they are arranged in paragraphs, sentences, clauses and phrases to express the intent of the legislature. Wyoming Ins. Guar. Ass'n v. Woods, 888 P.2d 192, 197 (Wyo.1994). If a statute is clear and unambiguous, we will give effect to the plain and ordinary meaning of the words and will not resort to rules of statutory construction. Lancto v. City of Rawlins, 892 P.2d 800, 802 (Wyo.1995). Only if we find the statute to be ambiguous will we resort to extrinsic aids of statutory interpretation to determine the legislature's intent. Lancto, 892 P.2d at 803.

As the statute makes clear, in order to be exempt from execution, attachment, garnishment or any other legal process, an IRA must be: (1) paid or payable by a private corporation or employer; (2) to an employee or a retired employee; (3) under a plan or contract; and (4) which provides that the IRA is not assignable.

Debtor's argument hinges upon the phrase "paid or payable ... [b]y any private corporation or employer." (Emphasis added.) Debtor suggests that "private corporation"...

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8 practice notes
  • Hardison v. State, S-21-0097
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 6, 2022
    ...is applied which requires a demonstration that the classification is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. In re Honeycutt , 908 P.2d 976, 979 (Wyo. 1995) ; Allhusen v. State By & Through Wyoming Mental Health Pros. Licensing Bd. , 898 P.2d 878, 885 (Wyo. 1995) ; Washakie Cnty. ......
  • Newport Intern. Univ. V. Dept. of Educ., No. S-07-0234.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 25, 2008
    ...is applied that requires a demonstration that the classification is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. In re Honeycutt, 908 P.2d 976, 979 (Wyo.1995); Allhusen v. State By and Through Wyo. Mental Health Professions Licensing Bd., 898 P.2d 878, 885 (Wyo. 1995); Washakie County ......
  • Peterson v. Wyoming Game and Fish Com'n, No. 97-182.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 5, 1999
    ...P.2d 863, 865 (Wyo. 1996) (quoting State Dept. of Revenue and Taxation v. Pacificorp, 872 P.2d 1163, 1166 (Wyo.1994)); In re Honeycutt, 908 P.2d 976, 978 (Wyo.1995). In analyzing the clarity or ambiguity of the statute, we turn to the guidance of grammarians. Management Council of Wyoming L......
  • Board of County Com'rs v. Geringer, No. 96-1
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 3, 1997
    ...is applied that requires a demonstration that the classification is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. In re Honeycutt, 908 P.2d 976, 979 (Wyo.1995); Allhusen, 898 P.2d at 885; Washakie County School Dist. No. One, 606 P.2d at 333. If a suspect class or a fundamental right is......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Hardison v. State, S-21-0097
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 6, 2022
    ...is applied which requires a demonstration that the classification is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. In re Honeycutt , 908 P.2d 976, 979 (Wyo. 1995) ; Allhusen v. State By & Through Wyoming Mental Health Pros. Licensing Bd. , 898 P.2d 878, 885 (Wyo. 1995) ; Washakie Cnty. ......
  • Newport Intern. Univ. V. Dept. of Educ., No. S-07-0234.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 25, 2008
    ...is applied that requires a demonstration that the classification is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. In re Honeycutt, 908 P.2d 976, 979 (Wyo.1995); Allhusen v. State By and Through Wyo. Mental Health Professions Licensing Bd., 898 P.2d 878, 885 (Wyo. 1995); Washakie County ......
  • Peterson v. Wyoming Game and Fish Com'n, No. 97-182.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 5, 1999
    ...P.2d 863, 865 (Wyo. 1996) (quoting State Dept. of Revenue and Taxation v. Pacificorp, 872 P.2d 1163, 1166 (Wyo.1994)); In re Honeycutt, 908 P.2d 976, 978 (Wyo.1995). In analyzing the clarity or ambiguity of the statute, we turn to the guidance of grammarians. Management Council of Wyoming L......
  • Board of County Com'rs v. Geringer, No. 96-1
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 3, 1997
    ...is applied that requires a demonstration that the classification is necessary to achieve a compelling state interest. In re Honeycutt, 908 P.2d 976, 979 (Wyo.1995); Allhusen, 898 P.2d at 885; Washakie County School Dist. No. One, 606 P.2d at 333. If a suspect class or a fundamental right is......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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