Board of Professional Responsibility v. Pearce, 081419 WYSC, D-19-0008

Docket Nº:D-19-0008
Opinion Judge:MICHAEL K. DAVIS Chief Justice
Party Name:BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, WYOMING STATE BAR, Petitioner, v. MICHAEL J. PEARCE, WSB # 7-4838, Respondent.
Judge Panel:Christopher H. Hawks, Vice Chair
Case Date:August 14, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of Wyoming
 
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2019 WY 85

BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, WYOMING STATE BAR, Petitioner,

v.

MICHAEL J. PEARCE, WSB # 7-4838, Respondent.

No. D-19-0008

Supreme Court of Wyoming

August 14, 2019

ORDER OF ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION

MICHAEL K. DAVIS Chief Justice

[¶ 1] This matter came before the Court upon the Board of Professional Responsibility's "Report and Recommendation for One-Year Suspension," filed herein July 30, 2019, pursuant to Rule 12 of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure (stipulated discipline). After a careful review of the Report and Recommendation and the file, the Court finds the Report and Recommendation should be approved, confirmed and adopted by the Court, and that Michael J. Pearce should be suspended from the practice of law for one year. It is, therefore, [¶ 2] ADJUDGED AND ORDERED that the Board of Professional Responsibility's "Report and Recommendation for One-Year Suspension," 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, as a result of the conduct set forth in the Report and Recommendation for One-Year Suspension, Respondent Michael J. Pearce shall be, and hereby is, suspended from the practice of law for one year, with the period of suspension to begin August 22, 2019; and it is further

[¶ 4] ORDERED that, during the period of suspension. Respondent shall comply with the requirements of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, particularly the requirements found in Rule 21 of those rules. That rule governs the duties of disbarred and suspended attorneys; and it is further

[¶ 5] ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 25 of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, Respondent shall reimburse the Wyoming State Bar the amount of $100.00, which represents the costs incurred in handling this matter, as well as pay an administrative fee of $1, 500.00. Respondent shall pay the total amount of $1, 600.00 to the Wyoming State Bar on or before January 1. 2020. If Respondent fails to make payment in the time allotted, execution may issue on the award; and it is further

[¶ 6] ORDERED that the Wyoming State Bar is authorized to issue the stipulated press release contained in the "Report and Recommendation for One-Year Suspension''; and it is further

[¶ 7] ORDERED that the Clerk of this Court shall docket this "Order of One-Year Suspension," along with the incorporated "Report and Recommendation for One-Year Suspension" as a matter coming regularly before this Court as a public record; and it is further

[¶ 8] ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 9(b) of the Wyoming Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, this "'Order of One-Year Suspension," along with the incorporated "Report and Recommendation for One-Year Suspension" shall be published in the Wyoming Reporter and the Pacific Reporter; and it is further

[¶ 9] ORDERED that the Clerk of this Court cause a copy of this "Order of One-Year Suspension" to be served upon Respondent Michael J. Pearce.

[¶ 10] DATED this 14th day of August, 2019.

In the matter of Michael J. Pearce, WSB#7-4838 Respondent

WSB No. 2018-073 & WSB No. 2019-039

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION FOR ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION

THIS MATTER came before the Board of Professional Responsibility ("Board" or "BPR) on the 22nd day of July, 2019, for consideration of the parties' stipulation for a one-year suspension 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 conditional admission ("Affidavit") and being fully advised in the premises, FINDS, CONCLUDES and RECOMMENDS as follows.

Findings of Fact

1. Respondent has been licensed to practice law in Wyoming since 2012 and maintains a solo practice in Laramie, Wyoming. Respondent is the subject of two disciplinary complaints, one from a client and one in the form of a report submitted by the presiding judge in a different matter.

2. In the underlying matter involved in No. 2018-073, Respondent's failure to exercise competence and diligence in representing a client in a personal injury matter resulted in the client's case being dismissed with prejudice. Respondent admits that he violated Rules 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence), 1.4 (communication with client), and 8.4(c) (misleading statements) in representing the client.

3. In the underlying matter involved in No. 2019-039, Respondent was issued a written reprimand by the presiding district court judge for violation of numerous provisions of a scheduling order and for numerous violations of Rule 801 (standards of professional behavior) of the Uniform Rules for District Courts of the State of Wyoming. Respondent admits that he violated Rules 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence), 3.4(c) (failure to follow the rules of the tribunal) and 8.4(c) (misleading statements) in the conduct for which the presiding judge reprimanded him.

4. In WSB No. 2018-073, Respondent represented the plaintiff in a personal injury matter against parties allegedly responsible for a motor vehicle accident.

5. Defense counsel moved to dismiss the case without prejudice after learning that most of the plaintiffs medical expenses arising from the motor vehicle accident were paid by workers' compensation. Defense counsel's motion was based upon Respondent's failure to provide notice of the lawsuit to the Workers' Compensation Division Director and to the Attorney General as required by W.S. § 27-14-105(b).

6. Respondent did not contest the motion and on September 28, 2017, an order dismissing the case without prejudice was entered. The order expressly provided, "Plaintiff shall have one year to re-file the action, pursuant to W.S. § 1-3-118."

7. The complaint Respondent's client submitted to the Office of Bar Counsel in late June 2018 stated, "Hired Mike Pearce a couple years ago to handle my personal injury case. I can't get him to answer the phone, return calls, letters or emails for over a year. I'd like him to either get to work or withdraw and return my file, preferably withdraw. He's a poor excuse for an attorney."

8. Respondent filed a reply to the client's complaint with the Office of Bar Counsel in which he...

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