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Board of Professional Responsibility v. Johnson

Supreme Court of Wyoming

August 19, 2015

BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, WYOMING STATE BAR, Petitioner,
v.
STUWERT B. JOHNSON, WSB No. 6-2631, Respondent

ORDER OF PUBLIC CENSURE

E. JAMES BURKE, Chief Justice.

[¶1] This matter came before the Court upon a " Report and Recommendation for Public Censure," filed herein July 27, 2015, by the Board of Professional Responsibility for the Wyoming State Bar, pursuant to Section 16 of the Disciplinary Code for the Wyoming State Bar (stipulated discipline). See also Rule 26(f) of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure (" These rules shall become effective July 1, 2015, and any discipline or disability investigation pending on that date shall proceed under these rules. Any matter then pending with respect to which a formal charge has been filed shall be concluded under the procedure existing prior to the effective date of these rules." ). The Court, after a careful review of the Board of Professional Responsibility's Report and Recommendation and the file, finds that the Report and Recommendation should be approved, confirmed, and adopted by the Court, and that Respondent, Stuwert B. Johnson, should be publicly censured for his conduct. It is, therefore,

[¶2] ADJUDGED AND ORDERED that the Board of Professional Responsibility's Report and Recommendation for Public Censure, which is attached hereto and incorporated herein, shall be, and the same hereby is, approved, confirmed, and adopted by this Court; and it is further

[¶3] ADJUDGED AND ORDERED that Stuwert B. Johnson is hereby publicly censured for his conduct, which is described in the Report and Recommendation for Public Censure. This public censure shall include issuance of a press release consistent with the one set out in the Report and Recommendation for Public Censure; and it is further

[¶4] ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 26 of the Disciplinary Code for the Wyoming State Bar, Mr. Johnson shall reimburse the Wyoming State Bar the amount of $50.00, representing the costs incurred in handling this matter, as well as pay the administrative fee of $500.00. Mr. Johnson shall pay the total amount of $550.00 to the Wyoming State Bar on or before October 19, 2015; and it is further

[¶5] ORDERED that the Clerk of this Court shall docket this Order of Public Censure, along with the incorporated Report and Recommendation for Public Censure, as a matter coming regularly before this Court as a public record; and it is further

[¶6] ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 4(a)(iv) of the Disciplinary Code for the Wyoming State Bar, this Order of Public Censure, along with the incorporated Report and Recommendation for Public Censure,

Page 1235

shall be published in the Wyoming Reporter and the Pacific Reporter; and it is further

[¶7] ORDERED that the Clerk of this Court cause a copy of this Order of Public Censure to be served upon Respondent, Stuwert B. Johnson.

[¶8] REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION FOR PUBLIC CENSURE

The Board of Professional Responsibility makes the following Report and Recommendation, with its findings of fact and recommendation to the Supreme Court of Wyoming:

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Respondent has been licensed to practice law in the State of Wyoming since 1993. He is also licensed to practice in the State of Utah, and maintains a law office in Ogden, Utah.

2. During 2013, Respondent undertook to represent Thomas Wixom with respect to criminal charges brought against him in the Circuit Court for the Third Judicial District, Sweetwater County, Wyoming. The charges followed a motor vehicle stop after Wixom was observed driving erratically and was combative with law enforcement. Wixom was charged with Driving While Under the Influence and Interfering with a Peace Officer.

3. A blood specimen drawn from Mr. Wixom was negative for blood alcohol content but positive for blood amphetamines.

4. On October 7, 2013, an Order Upon Arraignment was entered by Judge Prokos which required Respondent " to appear in person for the 2nd conference & pretrial conference."

5. On November 13, 2013, an Order was entered by Judge Prokos setting a second conference to be held December 18, 2013, at the Green River Circuit Court. The Order provided, " All counsel shall personally appear at the conference."

6. On December 17, 2013, Respondent faxed a motion to appear telephonically at the December 18, 2013 settlement conference.

7. On December 30, 2013, an Order was entered by Judge Prokos setting a pretrial conference for February 5, 2014, and a trial date of February 20, 2014. The Order further provided, " Any plea agreement must be submitted to the court in writing, personally signed by the defendant, by 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2014. The parties shall also each file a Pretrial Memo and motions in limine by 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2014."

8. Respondent did not appear at the February 5, 2014 pretrial conference, causing Judge Prokos to issue an Order setting the pretrial conference for February 12, 2014, with the provision, " Defense Counsel must appear in person." The February 5, 2014 order repeated the requirements that a pretrial memo, motions in limine and a signed plea agreement must be submitted by 3:30 p.m. on February 14, 2014, with the trial to be held February 20, 2014.

9. Respondent appeared for the February 12, 2014 pretrial conference, but left before the hearing began because he reportedly received an emergency phone call.

10. On February 18, 2014, Respondent faxed to the court a " Motion to vacate scheduled hearing and Request for Change of Plea and Request for Setting." The motion stated, " Defense Counsel and Counsel For The State discussed the matter and reached an agreement that can be presented to the Court which requires that the current hearing be vacated and the matter be set for a change of plea."

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11. The referenced " agreement" was one which would require Mr. Wixom to plead guilty to the charge of Driving While Under the Influence. Respondent proposed the agreement without reviewing discovery in the case, which showed that Mr. Wixom had a 0.00 ...


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