Suspensions The Wyoming Supreme Court issued an order of reciprocal discipline suspending Colorado lawyer Mary Jaclyn Thompson (formerly Mary Jaclyn Cook) from the practice of law for a period of nine months effective August 10, 2017. The reciprocal order of suspension stemmed from a corresponding order issued by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Colorado Supreme Court. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ conditional admission of misconduct and suspended Thompson for nine months, effective August 10, 2017. Thompson, a member of the products liability group at the Denver office of Faegre Baker Daniels, faced in late 2016 the prospect of failing to meet the firm’s yearly billable hour expectation. In mid-December 2016, Thompson spent two weeks away from the office for her wedding and honeymoon. She returned to the office well short of her hours target. January 3, 2017, Thompson entered or finalized 60 time entries for the December 2016 billing cycle. In some entries she inflated legitimate time that had not yet been submitted; other entries she fabricated entirely. Her fabricated billing reflected nearly $40,000.00 in time that she had not worked. A supervisor identified Thompson’s December billing as unusually high. In an office meeting in late January 2017, firm partners confronted Thompson. She panicked, claiming that the hours were legitimate. Later that day, she confessed to the partners that she had inflated and fabricated time entries, explaining that she was afraid she would lose her job if she failed to meet the billable hours target. The firm gave Thompson the opportunity to resign, which she accepted. With one exception, all client invoices containing the fabricated time were corrected before they were issued to clients. In this matter, Thompson violated Colo. RPC 4.1(a) (in the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person) and Colo. RPC 8.4(c) (a lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). The sole aggravating factor in this case was outweighed by multiple mitigating factors. The Wyoming Supreme Court approved an order of reciprocal discipline which found that Thompson’s conduct violated Rules 4.1(a) and 8.4(c) of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct, which are identical to the Colorado rules. Thompson was ordered to pay an administrative fee in the amount of $750.00 and costs of $50.00 to the Wyoming State Bar. On November 22, 2017, the Wyoming Supreme Court issued an order suspending Cody lawyer Nick Beduhn from the practice of law for a period of six months, to run consecutively with a two year order of suspension previously issued on August 24, 2017. The six month order of suspension resulted from professional misconduct by Beduhn in a client matter in which Beduhn violated a lawyer’s duties of competence, diligence, and maintaining communication with client, and also collected a fee for services he failed to provide. Beduhn also failed to cooperate with Bar Counsel’s investigation of the client’s complaint including failure to respond to the formal disciplinary charge, which resulted in a default being entered against him in the disciplinary proceeding. Following a sanction hearing held before the Board of Professional Responsibility, the Board recommended an additional six month suspension of Beduhn. In accepting the Board’s recommendation, the Court ordered Beduhn’s six month suspension to commence May 10, 2019, the termination date of the two year order of suspension previously issued by the Court. Beduhn was also ordered to refund a $1,000.00 fee to the client and to pay an administrative fee of $750.00 and costs in the amount of $605.15 to the Wyoming State Bar. Public Censure The Wyoming Supreme Court issued an order of public censure to Laramie attorney John James Learned. The public censure stemmed from Learned’s lack of diligence in representing the personal representative of an estate. Learned missed numerous deadlines set by the Wyoming probate code. Learned also charged and accepted fees from the personal representative without prior approval of the court as required by statute, which resulted in an order requiring Learned to refund those fees to the estate. Learned conceded that his conduct constituted negligent violations of Rules 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence) and 1.5 (fees) of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct. In approving the stipulation of Learned and Bar Counsel for a public censure as the appropriate sanction for Learned’s misconduct, the court ordered Learned to pay an administrative fee in the amount of $750.00 and costs of $50.00 to the Wyoming State Bar. Private Reprimand The Review and Oversight Committee of the Wyoming State Bar issued a private reprimand to an attorney who represented a client in proceedings for modification of visitation and child support. When the matter had not resolved after nearly 18 months, the client terminated the attorney’s services and submitted a complaint to the Office of Bar Counsel. Following investigation of the complaint, the attorney admitted that she violated Rules 1.3 (duty of diligence), 1.4 (duty to communicate with client) and 3.2 (duty to expedite litigation) of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct in her representation of the client. The Review and Oversight Committee approved the stipulation for a private reprimand and ordered the attorney to pay an administrative fee of $750.00 and costs of $50.00 to the Wyoming State Bar.
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