Message from the President
Elizabeth Lance, WTLA President 2019-2020
What a week this has been! If you’re like me you’ve spent the week making several difficult decisions regarding work, court appearances, your family and your firm. It can be overwhelming. WTLA wants you to know that we are here for our members. We have been in contact with AAJ and other TLA’s around the country and we are all sharing information about courts and otherwise. We will provide you information and advice for practices as we receive it. Please consider attending our free webinar CLE next Friday regarding working remotely. WTLA’s executive director and staff have been successfully working remotely this week and they haven’t missed a beat. Many thanks to Marcia and Charlotte for keeping our organization active.
In light of current circumstances surrounding the COVID 19 virus WTLA has agreed to waive all membership fees which are due for renewal until June 1, 2020. This is meant to help our members if they are working remotely or with a smaller staff to handle these administrative tasks. WTLA is committed to its members, and wants to continue to provide support and be a source for education, the listserv and networking.
Additionally, I’d like to suggest that if anyone is interested in discussions surrounding our practices and COVID 19 specifically, we could open a new listserv, let me know if this is of interest to our members.
I sent out the Supreme Court Order which offered guidance to all courts in Wyoming regarding handling of dockets during this pandemic. However, while it is helpful, it didn’t answer all questions attorneys have. Please let me know what further guidance you seek. I’m willing to compile these concerns and take them to the Supreme Court for clarification. We intend to inquire as to statutes of limitations and continuing discovery in our cases. I’d like more input from you all though! Please email me at email@example.com with any other questions.
Stay healthy and take care of each other!
2020 Budget Session Legislative Update
The Budget Session of the 65th Legislature convened in the newly renovated Capitol on February 10. Even though 2020 was a budget session 388 bills and 7 resolutions were filed for introduction. Many failed because of the short session and tight time frames. WTLA followed more than 40 bills this year which affected workers’ compensation, family law, criminal defense and civil practices. All non-budget bills required a two-thirds vote for introduction and at least 40 failed because they weren’t considered for introduction by Valentine’s Day, the deadline this year.
WTLA worked during the interim on proactive legislation that we hoped would be considered this year. Our efforts included legislation to increase the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual assault in civil cases and to increase the caps in the Governmental Claims Act. Senate File 12 – Child sexual abuse civil action statute of limitations was sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Committee. The committee discussed the legislation during the interim and voted to sponsor the bill which was considered on the last day for introduction and failed on an 11 – 19 vote.
Representative Kirkbride, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee agreed to sponsor the caps increase, HB 93 Governmental claims-maximum liability. Co-sponsors of the bill included Representatives Connolly and Stith and Senators Kost and Von Flatern. The bill was simple increasing $250,000 to $500,000 for a single claimant and $500,000 to one million five hundred thousand dollars for all claims of all claimants arising out of a single occurrence. HB 93 was not considered for introduction and so failed this session.
Legislation was considered relating to courts, family and criminal law and civil practice. A few highlights of those bills considered this session are available HERE. To review all bills filed and the actions of the legislature, go to Wyoming Legislature Web Page.
New Member Feature
Jeanne Core works to advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking through her employment as a staff attorney at the WCADVSA. She provides civil legal services including family law, protection orders and Title IX. Jeanne joined the WTLA to network with other lawyers and glean from their expertise, which she finds invaluable!
Please help us welcome Jeanne to WTLA!
Robert “Bob” Reese, passed away February 7th at the age of 72. Bob attended high school in Casper, graduating from NCHS. He earned a scholarship to Harvard University where he developed a passion for social justice and equality. He graduated from Harvard in 1969 with a degree in Economics. Bob spent several years in Washington D.C. after Harvard and held a number of jobs including CD cabbie and special education teacher. He was also an avid rugby player. Bob came back to Wyoming and received his JD from the University of Wyoming College of Law while still playing rugby. Bob worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney and then was in private practice in Sweetwater County. He was one of the first attorneys to shine light on child sexual abuse of the Catholic Church. Some of his victories in the court room led to significant safety changes including the implementation of safety bars on the rear end of tractor-trailers to prevent serious injuries. Bob served as a state senator for several years, championing the causes of his Sweetwater County constituents. He also served as a member of the local school board and was devoted to his family. Bob was a long-time member of WTLA and served on the board of directors for a number of years.
Robert “Jerry” Hand passed away on January 29 at the age of 88. Jerry served in the U.S. army during the Korean Conflict, receiving a discharge as a Captain. He received both a BA and JD from the University of Wyoming, graduating 2nd in his class from the UW College of Law. Jerry worked in private practice most of his career and was a certified arbitrator and mediator. He also worked with the Wyoming Guardian Ad Litem Program. In 2017, he proudly received recognition from the Wyoming Bar Association for 60 years of Distinguished Service. Jerry was president of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association from 1979-80. He was generous with his time and gave back to his community through involvement with many organizations including Girl Scouts, American Legion, Casper Children’s Chorale and numerous others.
Arthur Hanscum passed away February 20 at the age of 68. He attended the University of Wyoming receiving his B.S. in political science and his JD from the UW College of Law. He practiced with the firm of Pence and MacMillian in Laramie. Art was appointed Albany County District Court Judge in 1982, the youngest appointee at the age of 31. He was forced into early retirement in 1996 by symptoms associated with the onset of Parkinson’s disease. He acted in community theater and supported the theater at the University of Wyoming. He is said to have “written his own rules, paved his own way and never taken “no for an answer.”
WTLA Board Member Introduction
WTLA would like to introduce you to your incoming President and Convention Chair, Phil Nicholas! Phil received his B.S. in Microbiology from Oregon State University and his J.D. from the University of Wyoming. After graduating from law school in 1979, he first clerked for the Wyoming District Court’s Ninth Judicial District in Fremont County. He went on to serve for two years as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wyoming. Phil entered general practice in Laramie, Wyoming in 1982, representing individual, corporate and government clients. He has broad litigation experience representing individual parties and corporate clients in complex commercial litigation.
Phil served for twenty years in the Wyoming Legislature; consisting of twelve years in the Senate and eight years in the House of Representatives. He has served on numerous committees including Appropriations, Judiciary, Revenue, Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee, and on the Rules and Procedures Committee. He was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in both the House and the Senate, for a total of ten years. Phil was elected to and served as Senate Vice President, the Senate Majority Floor Leader and Senate President. He served as President of the Senate from 2015-2016.
As we look forward to June and the WTLA Convention, please see Phil’s message:
We know that the challenges we are facing today and in the coming weeks and months are changing the way we practice, receive CLE and plan for tomorrow. It is our hope that you, your family, staff and clients remain safe and healthy.
By June, we hope we can gather together again, connect, learn and enjoy the support that only in person events can provide. The WTLA Convention is still planned for June 17-19 in Lander, Wyoming. I am excited about the program, our faculty and reconnecting with many of you. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us. If you would like to save a few dollars and register early, be assured there will be no cancellation fees if your plans change or if there are still health concerns in June.
Please let us know how we can help you in the coming weeks. We are here for you and your clients.”
Upcoming CLE and Events:
Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association
2111 Warren Ave.
Cheyenne, WY 82001