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Legally Speaking


Issue: June, 2006
Author: Warren A. Lauer

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From the President . . .

An Invitation

Kari Gray of Douglas and Greg Weisz of Laramie, Co-Chairs for the 2006 Wyoming State Bar Summit and Judicial Conference join me along with our Summit planning teammates in requesting your presence and attendance at the beautiful University of Wyoming Summer Campus on August 15th through the 18th. You are assured to enjoy an exciting package of continuing legal education, distinguished speakers, great events and renewed friendships.

“Wyoming Lawyers: A Mosaic of Commitment” is the theme you will discover at the Summit that consists of a variety of pieces of mosaics the weave through a legion of stimulating topics and presentations. The underlying benchmarks of the mosaics will provide an outline for lawyers of ways to improve the quality of their skills, ethics and legal services through a choice of a full spectrum of practice areas.

A Sneak Peak

Carl M. Williams, JD ‘56, U.W., and Dean Jerry Parkinson have graciously committed the Carl M. Williams Speakers Series on Ethics and Professionalism to the 2006 Bar Summit by sponsoring and bringing a motivational and compelling speaker, Morris Dees, the founder and Chief Trial Counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama. You will hear Dees at the “Diamonds & Dinner in the Gem City” set for Thursday night, August 17th.

While on the subject of the U.W. College of Law, we have extended invitations to all the U.W. law school students, including this year’s May graduates and this coming Fall term first year students - to attend the entire Summit Meeting, without charge, as the guest of your Wyoming State Bar.

A portion of the Summit will emphasize effective appellate practice before the Wyoming Supreme Court, including case procedure, effective legal writing and reasoning. The Court will also hold session for oral argument, followed by the Court’s panel critique and discussion of the briefs and arguments.

Dr. Douglas Owsley, Wyoming native, U.W. graduate, renowned forensic anthropologist who is the museum curator for forensic anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, is preparing a presentation for the Summit that promises to be an extraordinary event for all Summit guests. Some of Doug’s work has included investigation at the Branch Davidian compound and at the Pentagon after 9/11 and his involvement as a plaintiff in the lawsuit involving the Kennewick man.

Mosaic pieces continue with a “Benchmark Luncheon: Wyoming Lawyer’s Tribute to the Judiciary” where we will be honored by the presence of Judge Deanell Reece Tacha, chief judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, who will address our members and guests. On the following day, the “Lawyers in Action Luncheon: The Leadership Mosaic” will feature Karen Mathis, newly elected president of the American Bar Association. Ms. Mathis is a member of a two-person firm, served as a state delegate from Colorado, chaired the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and served as Vice-Chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section of the ABA.

Plans are in process for the Tuesday “Summit Kick Off” at the American Heritage Center (AHC) which will include tours of the AHC featuring some of its exceptional collections. Don’t miss Cowboys’ Coach Joe Glenn and Company who will give a rousing Wyoming welcome. “Breakfast at Prexy’s Pasture,” “Mountain Jamboree” and barbeque at the Snowy Range Ski area and other guest activities including tours on U.W.’s campus will be included in the package. In addition to the annual 5 K race, “Race Judicata,” and Golf Tournament - plans are in the mix to have a tennis tournament co-sponsored by the local community tennis players. We also will have “Kid Kamp,” under the direction of the University of Wyoming, which will offer many kinds of recreational activities for children.

Mary Guthrie

I kept her letter of resignation on the corner of my desk for a couple weeks – “maybe she would change her mind,” I thought. But the inevitable time came at the close of our officer and commissioner meeting in Saratoga last April when I called the Board into Executive Session with Mary and officially read aloud her resignation letter. A sentimentalist I am, I choked up. I have been there since the day we hired Mary and watched her do so many wonderful things for us Wyoming attorneys and our Bar organization. We have had some great times, shared stories, laughed a lot and vented some of our frustrations too. Mary has always represented the Bar’s “best foot put forward” as she writes, acts and articulates so well who we are and what we enjoy about being Wyoming attorneys. I am very grateful to Mary for her enthusiastic support of me during the past three plus years and her never-ending desire to please others. Mary has graciously agreed to stay with the Bar through our process of selecting a successor and working through transition. We owe her a large debt of gratitude.

Finding a Successor Executive Director

I have appointed and charged a special Bar committee to conduct a search for candidates for the position. The special committee consists of Joe Bluemel, committee chairman, Gay Woodhouse, Bill MacPherson, P. Jaye Rippley, and myself. Joe has hit the road and is running with an aggressive procedure designed to provide the Board of Officers and Commissioners the opportunity to consider and select a person who will have the necessary talents and abilities to be the next Executive Director of the Wyoming State Bar.

Board Update

On a very short list, thank-you’s are in order for lawyers, Mike Messenger, Chair, Lawyers’ Assistance Task Force; P. Jaye Rippley, Bar Commissioner; Tony Lopez, Chair, Lawyers’ Assistance Committee and Mary Guthrie on behalf of the Bar; and, to Nancy Freudenthal, lawyer and counselor for the Wyoming Professional Assistance Program located in Casper. Over the course of at least the past four years, many Wyoming attorneys and Bar boards and committees have worked towards achieving meaningful lawyers’ assistance to aid Bar members who are or may become impaired by reason of alcohol, substance abuse or other similar treatable conditions. In Saratoga, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with the WPAP to provide services to the Bar for intervention, appropriate treatment referrals and structured rehabilitation for attorneys who exhibit an impairment to practice with reasonable skill and ability caused or exacerbated by psychoactive substance use disorders. You’ll be able find out more about the WPAP-Bar arrangements at the August Summit meeting.

Casemaker is coming. The Board authorized that a contract be negotiated with Casemaker and brought back to the Board for approval for the purpose of the Wyoming Bar to join the web-based legal library consortium.

The Board agreed to consider changing the Bar Bylaws, (Article II, Section I), to allow members to vote electronically or by mail up to 10 days prior to the annual Bar business meeting. The comment period closed May 15th.

Mary Guthrie, Gay Woodhouse, P. Jaye Rippley, Bill MacPherson, Steve Cranfill and Joe Bluemel attended the Western States Bar Conference last March in San Diego. Out of 16 Western States Bar organizations, the Wyoming Bar has the lowest dollar budget. North Dakota spends about $50K more in its budget than Wyoming, and also on about 1,000 fewer attorneys.

Cathy Duncil

Cathy Duncil is the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Coordinator/Bookkeeper. Speaking of budgets and finances, Cathy has done remarkable work by continually improving the bookkeeping and record keeping of the Bar’s financials and audit matters. Many of you also work with Cathy on lawyer referral matters. She is a great asset to the Bar, which statement I know is seconded by MacPherson, Bluemel and our several immediate past presidents, officers and commissioners. Thank you, Cathy!

My Last 60 days

As I approach the last 60 day straight-a-way of my tenure as your president, I intend to keep the reins steady on a straight course. The many things that your Bar has been doing for you have been done so as the result of a tireless and hardworking Bar staff and countless hours of time given to the Bar by numerous committee members.

I am pleased and proud that we are hosting the 2006 Wyoming State Bar Summit and Judicial Conference in Laramie this year. Look for the rest of the events and details as the registration booklet arrives in your mail. Please plan to enjoy the University of Wyoming and Wyoming’s Hometown: “Laramie,” for a few days in August.

Thank you for the privilege.

Copyright © 2006 – Wyoming State Bar