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Rules of Procedure Governing Unauthorized Practice of Law
Created October 28, 1986;
Effective December 5, 1986;
Text of Rules
Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law; appointment, composition and
removal of members; funding.
The Supreme Court shall appoint a Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law
to act in accordance with these rules. The committee shall consist of nine (9)
members, six (6) of whom shall be lawyers, and three (3) of whom shall be public
members who neither are admitted to the bar nor practice law in any state. The
court shall also appoint three (3) alternate members, one (1) of whom shall not
be a lawyer, to serve in the event members of the committee are disqualified in
particular proceedings. In the event of such temporary replacement, a lawyer
shall replace a lawyer and a nonlawyer shall replace a nonlawyer member.
Thereafter the court, by order, shall request the submission of nominations to
fill vacancies in each category of membership as they occur. Any bar association
or any resident of the state may submit in writing the names of nominees.
When the committee is first selected, one-third of the members shall be
appointed for a term of three (3) years, one-third for a term of two (2) years,
and one-third for a term of one (1) year. All subsequent appointments to the
committee shall be for a term of three (3) years. No member shall be appointed
to more than two (2) consecutive full terms. The members of the committee shall
not be subject to removal by the court during their terms of office, except for
cause. Cause shall include unexcused failures to attend scheduled meetings, the
number of which shall be set forth by the committee in an attendance policy.
Funding for the committee shall be provided by the Wyoming State Bar.
The committee shall elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from among its
members annually, subject to regulations and terms to be established by the
committee not inconsistent with these rules.
The committee shall receive complaints alleging the unauthorized practice of law
and shall investigate those complaints and initiate litigation in the district
court for injunctive relief and/or criminal contempt proceedings. The committee
may retain the services of investigators and private attorneys to carry out
Committee meetings; official actions.
The committee shall meet not less than once a year. The committee may provide, by
resolution, the time and place for the holding of such other regular meetings without
other notice than such resolution. In addition, special meetings of the committee may
be called by or at the request of the chairperson, the vice-chairperson, or any two
(2) members. The person or persons authorized to call special meetings may fix any
place for holding any special meeting of the committee.
Notice of any special meeting shall be given at least seven (7) days previous thereto
by written notice delivered personally or mailed to each member's business address.
Any member may waive notice of any meeting.
A quorum shall be constituted of a majority of the committee and must include at least
one (1) non-lawyer member. The committee shall act only with the concurrence of a
majority of the members present either in person or by telephone. All meetings shall
be confidential unless the committee determines that all or a portion of the meeting
shall be open to the public.
Conflict of interest by committee members.
Committee members shall not participate in any matter in which they have either a
material pecuniary interest that would be affected by committee recommendation, or any
other conflict of interest that might prevent them from participating. However, no
action of the committee will be invalid where full disclosure has been made and the
committee has not decided that the member's participation was improper.
Immunity of committee members and staff.
The members of the committee as well as staff persons assisting those members
shall have absolute immunity from civil liability for all acts in the course of
their official duties.
Investigations by committee.
The committee may conduct investigations of unauthorized practice of law through
subcommittees of not less than three (3) members, at least one (1) of whom shall be a
non-lawyer member. Such subcommittees after having completed an investigation shall make
a report to the entire committee of the results of the investigation and a recommendation
for further action. In emergency cases requiring immediate action a subcommittee may seek
temporary injunctive relief in the appropriate district court for a period sufficient to
allow the entire committee to meet and initiate litigation. The decision to initiate
litigation in the form of civil injunction proceedings or criminal contempt proceedings
shall be made by the entire committee at a regular or special meeting as provided in
Rule 4 above.
All unauthorized practice of law investigation matters including files, correspondence,
preliminary investigation reports, inter-office memoranda and records of investigations
are under the supervision of the Supreme Court and are subject to such public inspection
as the court shall direct.
Upon receiving a written application of the chairman of the committee alleging facts
indicating that a person or entity is or may be unlawfully practicing law and that the
issuance of a subpoena is necessary for the investigation of such unauthorized practice,
the clerk of the district court in which that person or entity is located, shall issue
subpoenas in the name of the district judge for the attendance of any person and
production of books and records before the investigating committee or subcommittee at the
time and place designated by the investigating committee or subcommittee.
Failure to comply with any subpoena shall constitute a contempt of court and may be punished
by the district court issuing the subpoena or the district court for the district where the
contemnor may be found. The issuing court shall have power to enter such protective orders
as may be necessary for the enforcement of the subpoena.
Civil injunction proceeding. -
Complaints shall be by written petition filed in the district court for the
district in which the respondent is located or in which unauthorized practice is
alleged to have occurred in the name of the Committee on the Unauthorized
Practice of Law.
Each such petition shall be processed in accordance with the following
The petition shall not be framed in technical language, but shall with
reasonable clarity set forth the alleged facts constituting the unauthorized
practice of law. A prayer for relief may be included in the petition, but shall
not be required.
The court, upon consideration of any petition so filed, may issue its order to
show cause directed to the respondent commanding said respondent to show cause
if any there be, why the respondent should not be enjoined from the alleged
unauthorized practice of law, and further requiring the respondent to file with
the court within twenty (20) days after service of the petition and show cause
order on him, a written answer admitting or denying the matter set forth in the
petition. The legal sufficiency of the petition may, at the option of the
respondent, be raised by motion to dismiss filed prior to or at the time of the
filing of the answer. The filing of a motion to dismiss prior to the filing of
an answer shall postpone the time for the filing of an answer until ten (10)
days after disposition of said motion. The order and petition shall be served
upon the respondent in the manner provided for service of process under Rule 4
W.R.C.P. Service of all other pleadings shall be governed by the provisions of
Rule 5 W.R.C.P.
If no response or defense is filed within the time permitted, the allegations of
the petition shall be taken as true for purposes of that action. The court will
then, upon its motion or upon motion of any party, decide the case upon its
merits, granting such relief and issuing such order as might be appropriate.
If a response or defense filed by a respondent raises no issue or issues of
material fact, any party, upon motion, may request a judgment on the pleadings
and the court may rule thereon as a matter of law.
Proceedings before the district court shall be in accordance with the following:
The proceeding before the court shall be held in the county where the respondent
resides or where the alleged offense was committed, whichever shall be
designated by the court.
Witness subpoenas shall run in the name of the court and shall be issued by the
court upon request of a party. Failure or refusal to comply with any subpoena
shall be a contempt of the court and may be punished by any district court where
the action is pending or where the contemnor may be found.
The Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure, including those provisions pertaining to
discovery, not inconsistent with this article, shall apply in proceedings before
the court. The committee may in every case amend its petition one time as of
right within sixty (60) days after the filing of the original petition.
After trial the court shall make written findings of fact, conclusions of law
and final disposition of the cause. The final disposition shall be an appealable
order and any party may appeal that order to the Wyoming Supreme Court pursuant
to the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Nothing set forth in this rule shall be construed to prohibit or limit the right
of the court upon proper application, to issue a preliminary or temporary
injunction, or at any stage of the proceedings, to enter any such order as to
the court may deem proper when public harm or the possibility thereof is made
apparent to the court, in order that such harm may be summarily prevented or
Criminal contempt proceedings. -
Criminal contempt proceeding for unauthorized practice of law shall be
prosecuted in the district court for the district in which the respondent
resides or in which the unauthorized practice is alleged to have occurred in the
Upon receiving a written petition of the chairman of the Committee on
Unauthorized Practice of Law, alleging facts indicating that a person, firm or
corporation is or may be unlawfully practicing law, and containing a prayer for
a contempt citation, the court may issue an order directed to the respondent,
stating the essential allegations charged and requiring respondent to appear
before the court to show cause why respondent should not be held in contempt of
court for unauthorized practice of law. The order shall specify the time and
place of the hearing, and a reasonable time shall be allowed for preparation of
the defense after service of the order on the respondent.
Any respondent, who is determined to be insolvent by the court, shall be
entitled to the appointment of counsel. In proceedings for the determination of
insolvency, there shall be a presumption of solvency, and the respondent shall
have the burden of rebutting the presumption by competent proof.
Venue for the hearing before the court shall be in the county where the
respondent resides or where the alleged offense was committed, whichever shall
be designated by the court.
The respondent, personally or by counsel, may move to dismiss the order to show
cause, move for a bill of particulars or answer such order by way of explanation
or defense. All motions and the answer shall be in writing. A respondent's
omission to file motions or answer shall not be deemed as an admission of guilt
of the contempt charged.
The court may issue an order of arrest of the respondent if the court has reason
to believe the respondent will not appear in response to the order to show
cause. The respondent shall be admitted to bail in the manner provided by law in
The respondent shall be arraigned at the time of the hearing before the court,
or prior thereto upon his request. A hearing to determine the guilt or innocence
of the respondent shall follow a plea of not guilty. The respondent is entitled
to be represented by counsel, have compulsory process for the attendance of
witnesses, and confront witnesses against him. The respondent may testify in his
own defense. No respondent may be compelled to testify. A presumption of
innocence shall be accorded the respondent, and the Committee on Unauthorized
Practice of Law, which shall act as prosecuting authority, must provide proof of
the guilt of the respondent beyond a reasonable doubt.
The court shall hear all issues of law and fact and all evidence and testimony
presented shall be transcribed.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the court shall sign and enter of record a
judgment of guilty or not guilty. There should be included in a judgment of
guilty a recital of the facts constituting the contempt of which the respondent
has been found and adjudicated guilty.
A person found guilty of contempt under this procedure shall be fined not more
than five thousand dollars ($5,000) or imprisoned in the county jail for not
more than three (3) months, or both. In addition, the court may order that all
fees paid by clients of any person found guilty under this procedure be
Prior to the pronouncement of a sentence upon a judgment of guilty, the court
shall inform the respondent of the accusation and judgment against him and
afford him the opportunity to present evidence of mitigating circumstances. The
sentence shall be pronounced in open court and in the presence of the
Any judgment of guilty shall be subject to review by the Wyoming Supreme Court
pursuant to the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Nothing set forth herein shall be construed to prohibit or limit the right of
the court to issue a permanent injunction in lieu of or in addition to any
punishment imposed for an indirect criminal contempt.