“Tales from the Tenth” Podcast Launch

The firm is excited to announce partner Leah Schwartz’s involvement in a new podcast recently launched by the Tenth Circuit Historical Society and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. “Tales from the Tenth” is an interview-style podcast about the rich history, culture and contributions of the Tenth Circuit Courts. Leah serves as podcast host and co-producer alongside Tina Howell, Emerging Technologies Librarian for the Tenth Circuit.  Early episodes tell the story of how the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals enlisted Congress to secure its home in the Byron White Courthouse in Denver, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s historic advocacy before the Tenth Circuit in the famous Moritz case.

To download and subscribe, visit BuzzsproutiHeart, or Apple Podcasts.

Ranck & Schwartz Achieves Victory for Asylum Seeker Before Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

Ranck & Schwartz lawyers Bill and Leah Schwartz received a positive ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit representing a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) seeking asylum.

Dieu D. Bokole Umba fled the DRC after suffering repeated acts of torture for his opposition to DRC leadership. Upon his arrival in the United States, “Bokole” applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The Immigration Judge (“IJ”) found him incredible based exclusively on inconsistencies about his personal relationships and the Board of Immigration Appeals concluded that there had been no error, dismissing the appeal.

The Tenth Circuit panel appointed Ranck & Schwartz to represent Bokole and the firm accepted the appointment on a pro bono basis. After considering the briefing and argument of counsel, along with the hefty administrative record, the Court concluded that it could not uphold the adverse credibility determination of the IJ on which asylum had been denied. In a 25-page opinion authored by Judge Carson, Circuit Judge, the panel granted the petition for review and remanded for further proceedings in which asylum may now be granted. The Court’s order also directs DHS to facilitate Bokole’s return from the DRC where he had returned following nearly two years of detention at a U.S. facility.

The firm is thrilled with this potentially life-changing result for its client and wishes to thank the University of Wyoming Human Rights Clinic and former Golten Fellow Jamie Crawford for the support and assistance on the file.  

The Court’s decision can be accessed here.

Leah C. Schwartz to present at the Land Trust Alliance’s Advanced Legal Issues Symposia

Leah C. Schwartz will present this June alongside in-house counsel for The Nature Conservancy (“TNC”) at the upcoming Eighth Annual Advanced Legal Issues Symposia sponsored by the Land Trust Alliance. Leah will draw on her experience as outside counsel for TNC and will join other faculty including lawyers representing and advising land trusts and environmental organizations around the nation to share insights on timely topics in conservation law.

Click here to register and take advantage of early-bird pricing offered through May 4.

Advanced Legal Issues Symposia Series | Land Trust Alliance

The rule of law matters

Ranck & Schwartz lawyers Bill and Leah Schwartz are proud to join colleagues and retired judges from across the state in condemning the events of January 6th in our collective piece, “The Rule of Law Matters.” Thank you to the editors of the Casper Star Tribune for choosing our article as an Editor’s Pick and for publishing on short notice while featuring all signatories.

Read here or see PDF below.

Leah C. Schwartz Featured in Wyoming Lawyer

The Young Lawyer Section of the Wyoming State Bar recently highlighted Leah C. Schwartz as part of its new “Young Lawyer Spotlight” series. Read the article in the August 2020 edition of Wyoming Lawyer magazine or here.

Ranck & Schwartz Celebrates Another WY Supreme Court Victory

Leah C. Schwartz recently served as co-counsel in a winning appeal before the Wyoming Supreme Court in which she represented Jackson nonprofit Teton Raptor Center alongside former colleagues at Davis & Cannon, LLP.

The lawsuit involved Teton Raptor Center’s redevelopment of its property on the northwest corner of the Hardeman Ranch as authorized by the Teton County Board of County Commissioners under a 2018 amended conditional use permit. Neighboring landowners challenged the permit as contrary to an existing variance granted in 2008. District Court Judge Timothy C. Day upheld the commissioners’ decision, prompting the neighbors’ appeal.

In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Kari Gray, the Wyoming Supreme Court sided with the County and Teton Raptor Center as intervenor. The case stands as significant precedent in the area of local land use/zoning and discusses the distinction between variances and conditional use permits. The case also reaffirms the judicial deference afforded to decisions of local zoning boards.

Ranck & Schwartz is celebrating alongside its client and looks forward to seeing Teton Raptor Center’s continuing work in the community as a world-class bird care and education facility.

A copy of the Court’s opinion is available here.

Leah Schwartz Named Wyoming Vice President of Tenth Circuit Historical Society

On the nomination of the Honorable Judge Gregory A. Phillips, Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and the motion of distinguished Cheyenne attorney Paul Hickey, Leah Schwartz has recently accepted a position with the Tenth Circuit Historical Society as State Vice President for Wyoming.

The Tenth Circuit Historical Society’s mission is to preserve and promote knowledge of the history of the development of the law in the Tenth Circuit and the judges and notable lawyers who have served in the Circuit. Directors of the Society include three sitting United States Circuit Judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, several District Court Judges, and attorneys practicing in federal courts throughout Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas.

To learn more about the Society or to become a member yourself, please contact Leah or visit http://www.10thcircuithistory.org/.

Ranck & Schwartz Committed to Maintaining All Practice Areas While Working Remotely During COVID-19 Crisis

In these challenging times presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ranck & Schwartz is adhering to federal and local guidelines to help “flatten the curve.” Consistent with that, our offices are closed to all in-person traffic and we are asking clients and colleagues to limit communications to email and phone, and to avoid physical mailings where possible. But we are still working every day to maintain the highest level of service. Here is what our clients can expect in connection with our three primary practice areas:

Civil Litigation:

In recent weeks, federal and state courts around Wyoming and beyond have issued orders limiting in-person trials and other proceedings. The Wyoming Supreme Court has now created a Coronavirus Updates Page listing relevant court orders and resources for lawyers and litigants. We are staying up to date on all orders impacting our clients across Wyoming in both state and federal court.

In reality, many court proceedings including trials will need to be vacated or continued as a result of the pandemic. But this does not mean justice will be denied. Pleadings may now be filed remotely across Wyoming, and courts and lawyers are working together to accommodate phone and video hearings and depositions using platforms such as “Zoom.” We are committed to exploring all available means to achieve our clients’ goals.

Mediation:

As hearing and trial dates around the state are being vacated or continued, we believe mediation can help “fill in the gaps” and provide litigants an opportunity to air their grievances and achieve a satisfactory resolution where courts are unavailable. We are working to get up to speed on the latest and best practices for online mediations based on guidance from the Center for Understanding Conflict, where Bill first received formal training as a mediator. We are optimistic that mediations can be successfully conducted by video conferencing.

Appeals:

Our appellate practice remains strong and is one that is easily adapted to remote work. The Wyoming Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals have both long allowed for e-filing, and while oral arguments have been vacated in certain cases, appellate panels are still capable of issuing timely decisions on the parties’ briefs. With online libraries like Westlaw at our fingertips, there will be no change to the high level of appellate briefing our clients have come to expect.

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On a personal note, we regret that we are unable to meet in person with our clients consistent with our typical practice. We will miss your company. But we are only a phone call or email away, and in these trying times more than ever, we hope we can help.

Victory Before the WY Supreme Court In Defense of Conservation Easement

Leah C. Schwartz recently served as co-counsel in a winning appeal before the Wyoming Supreme Court in which she represented The Nature Conservancy (“TNC”) alongside Kim D. Cannon.

Contrary to the language of the conservation easement, a private landowner sought to build multiple residences on his property near the Snake River floodplain. After TNC denied the proposed development, the landowner sued. Following discovery and summary judgment proceedings, District Court Judge Timothy C. Day deemed the development contrary to the plain language of the conservation easement. In a majority decision authored by Judge Joseph B. Bluemel, the Court affirmed.

The case is one of a handful addressing conservation easements in Wyoming and will serve as important precedent in the area. A copy of the Court’s opinion is available here.