Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Board of Professional Responsibility v. Learned

Supreme Court of Wyoming

October 25, 2017

BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, WYOMING STATE BAR, Petitioner,
v.
JOHN JAMES LEARNED, WSB# 6-4150, Respondent.

          ORDER OF PUBLIC CENSURE

          E. JAMES BURKE CHIEF JUSTICE.

         [¶1] This matter came before the Court upon a "Report and Recommendation for Order of Public Censure, " filed herein October 16, 2017, by the Board of Professional Responsibility for the Wyoming State Bar, pursuant to Rule 12 of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure (stipulated discipline). 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 John James Learned 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 Order of 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 John James Learned is hereby publicly censured for his conduct, which is described in the Report and Recommendation for Order of Public Censure. The Wyoming State Bar may issue a press release consistent with the one set out in the Report and Recommendation for Order of Public Censure; and it is further;

         [¶4] ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 25 of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, Mr. Learned 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 $750.00. Mr. Learned shall pay the total amount of $800.00 to the Wyoming State Bar on or before December 1, 2017; 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 Order of Public Censure, as a matter coming regularly before this Court as a public record; and it is further

         [¶6] ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 9(b) of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, this Order of Public Censure, along with the incorporated Report and Recommendation for Order of Public Censure, 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 John James Learned.

         [¶8] DATED this 25th day of October, 2017.

         BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT STATE OF WYOMING

         In the matter of JOHN JAMES LEARNED, WSB# 6-4150, Respondent.

         Docket No. 2017-054

         REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION FOR ORDER OF PUBLIC CENSURE

         THIS MATTER came before the Board of Professional Responsibility on the 10th day of October, 2017, for consideration of the Stipulation for Public Censure submitted pursuant to Rules 9 and 12 of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, and the Board having reviewed the Stipulation, the accompanying affidavit of factual basis and being fully advised in the premises. FINDS, CONCLUDES and RECOMMENDS as follows.

         1. Respondent has been licensed to practice in Wyoming since 2007, and maintains an active practice of law in Laramie, Wyoming.

         2. On May 1, 2017, the Office of Bar Counsel received a letter from the Honorable Catherine R. Rogers, First Judicial District Court Judge, reporting a possible violation of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct by Respondent. The incident which gave rise to Judge Rogers' report was the finding by Judge Rogers that Respondent had charged and received a $4, 000.00 fee payment from the personal representative of an estate without obtaining the Court's approval as required by W.S. § 2-7-805(a). Judge Rogers referred the matter to Bar Counsel as a possible violation of Rule 1.5 of the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct. Judge Rogers also expressed additional concerns regarding Respondent's lack of diligence in the matter.

         3. In the underlying probate matter, Estate of Charlotte Glasper, Docket No. 46-272, Respondent filed a petition to appoint Elizabeth Thrower as personal representative of the Estate on July 11, 2013. Respondent did not obtain the order appointing Ms. Thrower as personal representative until November 22, 2013, a delay of more than nine months. Once the order appointing the personal representative was issued, Respondent did not obtain letters testamentary until March 21, 2014, more than eight months after Respondent petitioned the court for appointment of a personal representative. In addition, Respondent failed to comply with the following statutory requirements in the administration of the Glasper Estate:

• Respondent did not publish the notice required by W.S. § 2-7-201.
• Respondent did not file timely allowances or rejections of creditors' claims that were submitted in November and December 2013.
• Respondent did not file the inventory required by W.S. § 2-7-403 to be Filed within 120 days after appointment of the personal representative.
• Respondent did not submit the report of appraisal required by W.S. § 2-7-404 to be filed within 120 days after timely filing of the inventory.
• Respondent did not complete the administration of the estate within one year after appointment of the personal representative as required by W.S. § 2-7-801.
• Respondent did not submit the final report required by W.S. § 2-7-806 to be filed within one year after appointment of the personal representative.

         4. In addition, Respondent was aware that the personal representative sold the estate's largest asset, the house, without obtaining the requisite approvals from the court (see W.S. 2-7-614 et seq.). In a "Motion to Set Hearing on Petition to Appoint Personal Representative" filed November 20, 2013, Respondent acknowledged that the imminent sale of the house "may have been lacking conformity to law, " but Respondent did nothing to address that problem.

         5. In the course of the representation, Ms. Thrower made periodic payments which were deposited into Respondent's trust account. Respondent received an initial retainer payment in the amount of $500.00 from Ms. Thrower which was deposited into Respondent's trust account on April 15, 2013. He received additional payments that were deposited into his trust ac- count in the following amounts on the following dates: $595.00 on July 16, 2013; $1, 000.00 on February 26, 2014; and $3, 000.00 on April 24, 2014, resulting in total payments of $5, 095.00. Those payments were applied against Respondent's invoices in the matter until Ms. Thrower terminated Respondent's representation and hired other counsel in October 2014. At that time, there remained a balance in trust for Ms. Thrower of $697.19, which Respondent eventually refunded to the Glasper Estate.

         6. In July 2015, after Ms. Thrower had terminated Respondent's representation and retained a different lawyer, an "Interim Report and Accounting" was filed which disclosed that Ms. Thrower had paid Respondent a retainer of $1, 000.00 on February 24, 2014, and an additional retainer of $3, 000.00 on April 24, 2014. The Interim Report also indicated that Respondent had returned $697.19 of the retainer to the Glasper Estate, 7. At some point after the Interim Report was filed, Ms. Thrower was removed as personal representative and replaced by Donna Cowan.

         8. On April 4, 2017, Judge Rogers issued an "Order to Show Cause Why Former Attorney for Former Personal Representative Should Not Be Held in Violation of W.S. § 2-7-805." The Order referred to the retainer payments that were disclosed in the Interim Report and suggested that Respondent's acceptance of such payments would appear to violate W.S. § 2-7-805(a), which provides, "No fees shall be paid to the personal representative or the attorney for the estate except upon order of the court." A show cause hearing was set for April 25, 2017.

         9. Respondent appeared at the hearing and expressed confusion over the payments, stating, "[A]pparently somebody used money to pay me that they shouldn't have used." Respondent conceded that this was his "first foray into doing work in the probate code, " At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Rogers ruled from the bench that Respondent had violated W.S. § 2-7-805(a) and that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.