Wyoming Adopts New Pro Hac Vice Rule
In the new year, Wyoming courts and practitioners are adapting to significant changes to one of the key rules governing the pro hac vice admission of out-of-state counsel. The new Rule 8, amended effective December 1, 2019, can be found within the Rules Governing the Wyoming State Bar and the Authorized Practice of Law.
Under the amended rule, local counsel is charged with heightened oversight responsibility and “shall be deemed to have ratified all conduct of pro hac vice counsel and shall be responsible for pro hac vice counsel’s violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.” The Rule also clarifies its application to proceedings before administrative tribunals and expands the information that must be included in the pro hac application submitted to the Wyoming State Bar.
According to the Wyoming State Bar Office of Bar Counsel, one upshot of the new Rule 8 will be more “hands-on involvement” by local counsel.See Mark Gifford, Wyoming’s New Pro Hac Vice Rule: Heightened Duties for Local Counsel, 42 Wyo. Law. 7 at 12 (December 2019). In many respects, however, the new Rule 8 merely codifies the longstanding preference of several judges across the state, whose orders granting pro hac vice admission typically require active participation by “resident counsel.”
In Teton County, for example, District Court Judge Timothy C. Day’s orders granting pro hac admission generally require (among other things) that local counsel shall:
Review, and by his or her signature approve, all pleadings or other papers filed in the case;
Have direct access to, and maintain communication with, the client; and
Be held jointly responsible by the Court for making all legal or tactical decisions.
Other judges, including Judge Marvin L. Tyler of Sublette County, sometimes quote Wyoming case law in their pro hac orders, including the following admonition from Dorador v. State, 573 P. 2d 839, 841 (Wyo. 1978):
While Wyo. Stat. § 33-5-11 (2009) provides that out-of-state counsel may be admitted for the purposes of a particular case, such nonresident practitioner must have associated with him an active member of the Wyoming State Bar. […] The function of local counsel is something more than a matter of form or protocol; it is not intended that he be only a figurehead. It is expected that he take an active part in the representation of the client concerned and be available to share responsibility as well as actively participate in the case at hand, in the absence of out-of-state counsel.
Notably, Rule 104 of the Uniform Rules for the District Courts of the State of Wyoming also provides that local counsel shall be present in court during “all proceedings in connection with the case, unless excused. ” Judges across the state do not respond kindly when this rule is ignored.
Thus, while the amended Rule 8 may not change much in practice, it certainly demands by rule the active involvement and participation of local counsel in matters before Wyoming courts and administrative tribunals. As stated by Bar Counsel, “[t]he days when a Wyoming lawyer could sign on as local counsel and entrust the handling of the case to an out-of-state attorney admitted pro hac vice are past.” Gifford, supra, at 12.
Those seeking pro hac vice admission should familiarize themselves with the new Rule 8 and the requirements for obtaining the necessary Rule 8 certificate accompanying any motion for admission pro hac vice in a given matter. For an updated submission checklist including internal references, visit: https://www.wyomingbar.org/for-lawyers/admissions/pro-hac-vice Note that the U. S. District Court in Wyoming has its own federal requirements governing pro hac vice appearances.
The new Rule 8 reads as follows:
Rule 8. Pro hac vice admission (Effective
until December 1, 2019. ) Members of the bar of any other state, district or territory of the United States may be admitted to practice pro hac vice, in compliance with Rule 104 of the Uniform Rules for the District Courts of the State of Wyoming or Rule 19. 01 of the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure. (a) Admission pro hac vice under this rule and any other rule concerning admission pro hac vice is discretionary with the court in which the application is made. A judge, hearing officer or person presiding over an administrative hearing or other state tribunal is not obligated to admit an applicant pro hac vice nor is a judge, hearing officer or person presiding over an administrative hearing bound by a prior decision to admit an applicant pro hac vice. Admission pro hac vice may be revoked by the court or tribunal upon its own motion or the motion of a party if, after notice and a hearing, the court or tribunal determines that admission pro hac vice is inappropriate. Admission pro hac vice will be denied or, if granted, will be revoked if the court or tribunal determines that the process is being used to circumvent the normal requirements for the admission of attorneys to the practice of law in this state. (b) In determining whether to enter or revoke the order of admission pro hac vice, the court or tribunal may consider any information it considers relevant, including but not limited to whether the applicant: (1) is familiar with Wyoming rules of evidence and procedure, including uniform court rules; (2) is available to opposing parties; (3) has particular familiarity with the legal affairs of the party relevant to the case; (4) complies with the rulings and orders of the court; (5) has caused delay or been disruptive; and (6) has been disciplined in any other jurisdiction within the prior seven years. (c) The applicant must submit the following to the Wyoming State Bar for each case in which the applicant seeks pro hac vice admission: (1) application on a form prescribed by the Wyoming State Bar; (2) certificate(s) of good standing from the state(s) in which the applicant is licensed, dated no more than 30 days prior to the date of the application; (3) application fee, determined by and payable to, the Wyoming State Bar. (d) Upon approval of the application for admission pro hac vice, the Wyoming State Bar will issue a certificate of compliance with Rule 8. This certificate must be filed in the court or tribunal, along with the motion of the local counsel to admit the applicant pro hac vice and entry of appearance of local counsel. (e) Local counsel will perform all duties and satisfy all requirements set forth in Rule 104 of the Uniform Rules for the District Courts of the State of Wyoming or Rule 19. 01 of the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure. (f) An attorney admitted pro hac vice shall comply with and is subject to Wyoming statutes, rules of the Wyoming Supreme Court, including but not limited to, the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Disciplinary Code for the Wyoming State Bar, these rules and the rules of the court , tribunal or agency in which the attorney appears. (g) This rule does not apply to an employee of the Justice Department who is appearing solely on behalf of the United States so long as 28 U. S. C. §§ 515-519, 28 U. S. C. § 530B or similar laws are in force. (Repealed and reenacted effective April 29, 2014 . )