Laramie attorney Michael Pearce, the chairman of the Albany County Republican Party, has been suspended from practicing law for one year.
The Wyoming Supreme Court ordered the suspension Wednesday after Pearce was found to have, among other things, misled one of his clients.
“I regret these circumstances and I’m making every effort to make this right,” Pearce told the Laramie Boomerang on Thursday.
The suspension came after Pearce, in two separate court cases, failed to meet court deadlines and failed to comply with court rules and orders in both cases.
Alongside his suspension, Pearce has also been ordered to pay $1,600 in fees by Jan. 1.
The Wyoming State Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility recommended the suspension July 30 after finding “clear and convincing evidence of a pattern of neglect with respect to client matters.”
Pearce was able to escape disbarment, which is the “presumptive sanction” for making misleading statements, the board’s report states.
According to a report from that board, an unnamed district court judge in one case submitted a complaint, as did one client in another case.
Pearce’s “failure to exercise competence and diligence in representing a client in a personal injury matter resulted in the client’s case being dismissed with prejudice,” the Board of Professional Responsibility found.
In another case, a judge issued a written reprimand for “numerous violations” of the state’s rules regarding “standards of professional behavior.”
According to the report, Pearce admitted he violated rules regarding competence, diligence, rules of the tribunal and making misleading statements.
In the case in which a client filed a complaint regarding Pearce, the attorney was representing a plaintiff injured in a traffic accident. However, Pearce failed to notify the state’s Workers’ Compensation Division about the lawsuit, as required. Workers’ compensation paid for most of the plaintiff’s injuries, leading to a dismissal of the suit in September 2017.
However, Pearce didn’t tell the client the lawsuit was dismissed until July 2018, and only after a complaint was filed with the Office of Bar Counsel.
The Office of Bar Counsel initiated an investigation and ultimately filed a formal charge against Pearce after a judge informed the office of a reprimand that was issued to Pearce in March.
After graduating from the University of Wyoming’s law school in 2011, Pearce was admitted to the Wyoming State Bar in 2012. He’s maintained a solo practice in Laramie since 2015.
Before becoming an attorney, Pearce worked in finance for nearly a decade.
In 2018, Pearce ran for Albany County treasurer and ultimately earned 40% of the vote, despite having dwarfed new Treasurer Tracy Fletcher in fundraising.
After former Albany County Clerk of District Court Janice Sexton retired in July, Pearce was one of three candidates the Albany County Commission interviewed as a possible replacement.
In 2018, Pearce also represented Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Taylor Haynes, who was determined to be ineligible to run for governor by the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office.
Pearce’s one-year suspension goes into effect Aug. 22.
The Board of Professional Responsibility’s report states “the sole mitigating factor” for Pearce’s misconduct was “certain personal or emotional problems” that are not detailed in the report.