Free Speech Lawyer Says Charging Wyoming Man For Angry Signs ‘Really Lame’

A felony interfering-with-a-witness charge for a Wyoming man who displayed strongly worded signs in his yard is “a really lame case,” a longtime First Amendment attorney says.

Clair McFarland

March 25, 202412 min read

Evanston resident Quinn Groneman has been charged with a felony for putting these signs up on his property.
Evanston resident Quinn Groneman has been charged with a felony for putting these signs up on his property. (Courtesy Photos)

A case charging a 10-year felony against an Evanston man who posted angry signs facing his neighbor's home after she reported him for having unsightly property is "really lame," according to a First Amendment attorney who practiced in Wyoming for decades.  

Quinn Groneman, 44, is charged in Uinta County District Court with intimidating a witness because he posted signs throughout his property (some facing toward his neighbor’s house and at least one angled toward her living room window) that said things like, “You can f*** way off!” and “Mind your business.”

The signs started appearing after Evanston police ticketed Groneman for having unsightly possessions on his outside property.

Mike Krampner, who worked numerous First Amendment cases during his lengthy law career in Wyoming, called the case weak next to Groneman’s right to free speech.

‘Really Lame Case’

“It is a really lame case of witness intimidation,” said Krampner in a Monday text to Cowboy State Daily, after reviewing a verbatim account of the evidentiary affidavit in Groneman’s case.

Felony intimidation of a witness applies in Wyoming when a person, by force or threat, tries to influence, intimidate or impede a witness in the discharge of her duty.

“There is no force and no threat in Groneman’s signs as far as I can see,” said Krampner. “He has merely stated his opinion about (his neighbor), and her behavior.”

The prosecutor must be “asleep at the wheel,” Krampner said. That is, if he continued, the evidentiary affidavit contains all the relevant facts of the case.

“If you can’t state your opinion in your own front yard, where can you state it?” Krampner said.

  • Evanston resident Quinn Groneman has been charged with a felony for putting these signs up on his property.
    Evanston resident Quinn Groneman has been charged with a felony for putting these signs up on his property. (Courtesy Photos)
  • Evanston resident Quinn Groneman has been charged with a felony for putting these signs up on his property.
    Evanston resident Quinn Groneman has been charged with a felony for putting these signs up on his property. (Courtesy Photos)


Ryan Semerad, a defense attorney and owner of Casper law firm Fuller and Semerad, said Groneman could bring a free-speech argument before a jury in his case or contest the “threat” part of his charge.

But Semerad said he did not find it ridiculous that the prosecutor, Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson Kallas, charged the case.

That’s because the affidavit says Groneman kept adding signs as his unsightly-property case was ongoing in city court.

Groneman’s neighbor, Sidney McCrimmon, told Evanston Police Officer Ryan Nelsen that Groneman’s first angry sign appeared in front of her window Dec. 18, 2023.

It said, “Mind your business,” the affidavit relates.

Another sign saying “Snoby opinion don’t take my rights” showed up Dec. 26, 2023, and one that read “You can go f*** way off!” appeared Jan. 10, 2024, the affidavit says.

The layering of new signs as the weeks wore on — and as the ugly-property case progressed — could help to support Howieson Kallas’ probable cause in charging the case, Semerad said.

“(If) you keep ratcheting it up. … It’s this pattern of conduct a court is going to weigh,” he said. “I’m not saying the homeowner who put the signs up is guilty. But I can now understand why he’s being charged – because they’re looking at the situation of this pattern of conduct that’s kind of escalating and the epicenter of it is this hearing that has to do with a nuisance complaint made by the neighbor.”

Howieson Kallas declined Monday to comment on the case, citing the rules of professional conduct for prosecutors.

The Strategies

Groneman’s attorney could file a motion for District Court Judge James Kaste to dismiss the case on the basis that the intimidation statute is unconstitutional as applied to Groneman, Semerad noted.

That’s not an attempt to delete the whole statute from Wyoming’s law books, just to get the judge to say it was applied to Groneman in a way that violated his rights.

After reading a verbatim text copy of the affidavit, Semerad was not hopeful about this strategy.

“I’d expect the court to deny a motion to dismiss and say that’s a jury question now,” he said.

Semerad said there are still some weaknesses in the case. For example, if he were defending Groneman, he’d emphasize the portion in the affidavit where Sidney McCrimmon at first told the officer she wasn’t intimidated by the signs, but then later changed her mind and said she was.

McCrimmon, contacted Monday, said she did not want to comment on the case.

The Shed And ‘The Protest’

Melanie Harker, who said she is Groneman’s common law wife and who was a co-defendant on his unruly-property citation, called the signs and writings “the protest,” in a Monday interview with Cowboy State Daily.

Harker sent documents to Cowboy State Daily showing that there have been two, not one, unruly-property cases against Groneman in the city court and that they both have now been dismissed.

The first, charged in June 2023, was dismissed at the prosecutor’s request Sept. 18, 2023. Harker said the dismissal came amid a shakeup of roles in the municipal court.

She sent a copy of the city judge’s terse dismissal order.

The Evanston City Attorney’s office did not respond by publication time to a Monday voicemail requesting comment.

  • A second home on the property of Quinn Groneman shows the after-effects of a house fire.
    A second home on the property of Quinn Groneman shows the after-effects of a house fire. (Courtesy Photos)
  • A second home on the property of Quinn Groneman shows the after-effects of a house fire.
    A second home on the property of Quinn Groneman shows the after-effects of a house fire. (Courtesy Photos)
  • A second home on the property of Quinn Groneman shows the after-effects of a house fire.
    A second home on the property of Quinn Groneman shows the after-effects of a house fire. (Courtesy Photos)
  • A helium tank that was mention in a citation for having an unruly property.
    A helium tank that was mention in a citation for having an unruly property. (Courtesy Photos)

Unruly House

The second citation, charged in November, was dismissed March 11, 2024, according to documents Harker emailed to Cowboy State Daily. The ticket came after Evanston Police Officer Jeffrey Chad Liechty inspected Groneman’s property on Sage Street in Evanston, says the affidavit in that city case.  

Liechty listed the offending items on the property as:

  • A blue truck that was inoperable.
  • An abandoned or unsecure refrigerator.
  • Inoperable yard tools, including a tiller,
  • Outdoor storage of tools and equipment in the side and rear yards.
  • Lumber, windows, propane tanks, equipment, pallets, an acetylene tank and a vehicle camper shell.

Harker countered in her own interview:

She said the truck runs, was parked near the back of the property but had expired license plate tags.

  • She said the refrigerator is secured.
  • She said they sold the tiller last May and there aren’t other inoperable tools out.
  • She said there is some outdoor storage of equipment.
  • They do have a propane tank for heat, she said.
  • Harker claims the acetylene tank was an OSHA-regulated helium tank.

A Little Abrupt

Harker said the dispute started back in May 2023, when Officer Nelsen came by the property and said it was unruly.

Harker said she argued with Nelsen, saying they had two trailers out and loaded with items because they were taking them to the dump the next day.

Groneman walked up to the pair and accosted Nelsen.

“My husband is a little abrupt,” said Harker. “Kind of rough around the edges.”

Groneman told Nelsen to write whatever citation he needed to write, but to get off the property.


Harker said the evolution of debris and supplies on the property has been a symptom of rebuilding a house on it.  

One of the houses on the two-house property, which technically belongs to Groneman’s mother Diana Groneman, caught fire in 2017, said Harker.

Melanie Harker and Quinn Groneman couldn’t start renovating the burnt house until Diana Groneman put the property in trust and made them trustees of it in 2022, she added. After that, the harsh winter of 2022-23 put them behind schedule, and they didn’t start hauling out debris and getting ready to rebuild until May 2023, she said.

Harker provided photographs featuring a severely fire-damaged home.

Evanston Police Chief Michael Vranish did not respond to a Monday morning Cowboy State Daily voicemail by publication time.

Here Come The Signs

It was about Dec. 14 when Evanston Municipal Court summoned Groneman and Harker to answer the second unruly-property charge, said Harker.

She said court documents didn’t list McCrimmon as a reporting party, but an attached photo of the allegedly unruly property seemed to have been taken through McCrimmon’s window.

The court date was about four days later, Dec. 18.

“We were already in the midst of the cleanup of the property – all the things they complained of in the original citation with Nelsen were gone, and months prior to the second case even arriving on my door,” she said.

Harker said she brought photos of her property to show the judge.

The judge ordered the couple to clean up their property within 30 days and get any equipment or lumber into enclosures, Harker said.

“The very next day was when my husband put out his first sign,” she said. “This was in protest of that minute order (to clean up the property) that we were now screwed into.”

They couldn’t put the lumber and equipment in the burnt house, and they didn’t have room in their own home, said Harker.

So Groneman built a shed, she added. And in frustration, he graffiti’d the shed with such statements as, “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter” and, “Don’t take my rights.”

Groneman raised at least one more sign in the first half of January, said Harker.

The one with “profanity,” which read “You can F*** way off!” is a song lyric from rapper Tom MacDonald, she said.  


The couple were headed back to city court Feb. 6, Harker said, adding that they were scheduled to show they had “abated” their property and the case could be dismissed.

She said they were found in compliance, but the city’s prosecutor said he wanted to stay the dismissal another month to make sure they stayed in compliance.

Harker said McCrimmon was at that hearing.

That was 15 days after Nelsen signed the felony intimidation affidavit against Groneman. The felony case went through the county, not the city court system.

The city court dismissed the second unruly-property case March 11.

But the theory of the felony-level case against Groneman in the county district court is that Groneman was trying, by threat or force, to influence, intimidate or impede McCrimmon while she was still a witness in his unruly-house case in December and January.

Groneman was in jail for one or two nights, March 5-7, before he was released on a $1,000 surety bond, his file indicates. He wrote the court asking to be released, saying he’s not “a runner,” and needed to be out of jail due to his poor health and a need to take care of his family.

In the meantime, Harker said she and Groneman are still working on rebuilding the burnt home on their property.

“Now we’ve got to re-do and gather up all my building materials again, and somehow figure out how to store them without pissing someone off,” she said.

Groneman’s felony intimidation case was transferred to Uinta County District Court on March 15 and is ongoing. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

So That You Can Review It Yourself

A verbatim text account of the evidentiary affidavit in the intimidation case is as follows, with two redactions for profanity:

Your Affiant, Ryan M. Nelsen is employed as a Police Officer by the City of Evanston and at all times mentioned herein was acting in that capacity. 

On January 19, 2024, at approximately 1136 hours, I (Officer Nelsen) responded to 1324 Sage St regarding Sidney McCrimmon (YOB 1959) felt threaten (sic) by her neighbor Quinn GRONEMAN (YOB 1980).

On arrival, I observed a sign in the front yard of GRONEMAN's residence located at 1332 Sage St stating, "When did the opinion of one nosey neighbor become enough to violate the rights others by the city?" At the end of the message there was an arrowing pointing towards the residence of 1324 Sage St. 

I contacted Sideny (sic) and Roderick McCrimmon (YOB 1943) who showed me additional signs which were posted on GRONEMAN's yard facing their residence. The signs were placed directly in front of their living room windows. I observed four additional signs stating the following: "Mind your Business", "Snoby opinion Don't take...", Those who matter don't mind, those who mind don't matter", and "You can go F(***) Way off!". 

Sidney claimed she was threatened by the signs and was being targeted. Sidney substantially stated the following: 

After GRONEMAN appeared for an initial court hearing regarding his property, the signs began to appear. Sidney felt the signs were directed towards her. The sign that was posted in front of Quinn's property appeared on January 8, 2024. The "Mind your Business" appeared on December 18, 2023 (There use to be a sign in front of each window), the "Snoby opinion don't take my rights" appeared on December 26, 2023, and the "You can go F(***) Way off!" appeared on January 10, 2024. 

Sidney believed the reason GRONEMAN posted the signs was because they turned him in for the appearance of his property. Sidney claimed people would stop in front of the residence and take pictures of the sign GRONEMAN displayed.

Sidney felt threatened because they are "Crazy", "Gun loving AR 15", and Sidney felt scared. Sidney felt GRONEMAN was going to retaliate after his court hearing in February. At first Sidney claimed she was not intimidated by GRONEMAN, but later stated she was intimidated. In addition, Sidney felt she was being harassed by the signs. 

On June 2, 2023, at approximately 1345 hours, I cited GRONEMAN for a Nuisance Violation (City Ordinance 14-2). 

All of the aforementioned events took place within the County of Uinta, State of Wyoming. 

(Signed Ryan Nelsen, Jan. 22)

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter