Wyoming’s hunting agencies, along with some of their officers, are asking a federal court to dismiss the lawsuit of a reality television star who claims officers violated her rights while investigating her for using illegal hunting methods.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Wyoming Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides, and a few officials working for them filed a motion last month asking the U.S. District Court for Wyoming to dismiss the lawsuit of Melanie Peterson.
The state’s Dec. 18 filing calls Peterson’s lawsuit “baseless,” and claims immunity under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The 11th Amendment bars a federal court from overseeing a lawsuit involving money damages or injunctive relief against state officials, the state’s filing asserts.
The Service Here
Peterson’s lawsuit also challenges multiple state officials individually. These officers filed a separate motion to dismiss Dec. 20.
A memorandum in support of that motion says that Peterson sent court summonses to their employers, rather than to them. The filing says the court should dismiss the claims against them because of “insufficient service of process” under the procedural rules dictating federal lawsuits.
The federal court rule says a plaintiff must serve an individual she wishes to sue by delivering a summons to him, by leaving it at his home with someone who lives there, or by giving the summons to someone authorized by law or appointment to receive it on the individual’s behalf.
Peterson won the 2018 “Extreme Huntress” reality show and has been a prominent hunter and guide.
Her lawsuit alleges that in 2019, Wyoming Game and Fish wardens came to her hunting lodge in Daniel, Wyoming, to investigate her for suspected hunting violations.
She has since been convicted for being an accessory in others’ illegal hunting of animals.
But during the 2019 search of her cabin, investigators interrogated her, used a faulty warrant to take massive volumes of evidence from her electronic devices, and questioned her grandchildren to “the point of tears,” her lawsuit alleges.
Besides suing the state’s agencies on these claims, Peterson also is appealing her conviction in the state court, saying the 2019 search warrants used against her employed “gross constitutional violations.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.