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Wyoming Lawyer Censured for Neglecting Client’s Bankruptcy

June 25, 2020, 7:07 PM

A Wyoming lawyer who didn’t file a client’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition 11 months after she instructed him to do so was publicly censured by the state’s highest court for negligence.

Relying on a report from the state bar’s professional responsibility board, the Wyoming Supreme Court agreed that the sanction was appropriate for his failure to act diligently for his client.

John C. Hoard agreed to represent the client in June 2017 but the bankruptcy filing was delayed because she underwent treatment for a medical condition, the board’s report said.

She directed Hoard in April 2018 to go ahead with the filing, and terminated his representation the following March “frustrated” by his failure to act, it said.

She hired another lawyer who told her she wasn’t eligible for a Chapter 7 proceeding because she missed the January 2019 filing deadline, the report said.

The woman filed a Chapter 13 petition instead, it said. Chapter 13 required her to make more than $44,000 in payments to creditors, something a Chapter 7 petition wouldn’t have required, the report noted.

Hoard’s negligence resulted in financial harm to his client, it said. An aggravating factor is his “substantial experience” practicing law, the report said. Mitigating factors include no disciplinary history; lack of selfish motive; and “cooperative attitude” during the disciplinary proceedings, it said.

The court agreed that Hoard should pay $800 in fees to the state bar by Aug. 31, and ordered the censure.

Hoard couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The case is Board of Prof’l Responsibility Wyo. State Bar v. Hoard, 2020 BL 234221, Wyo., No. D-20-0003, 6/24/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at mstanzione@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com

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