On Thursday, April 20, 2023, the Supreme Court of the State of Wyoming disbarred attorney Collin C. Hopkins for neglecting a client and misleading the same regarding the status of his case.
The case is entitled “Board of Professional Responsibility, Wyoming State Bar v. Collin C. Hopkins,” with case no. D-23-003.
The charges cited Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, and 8.4 which state:
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.” Respondent violated Rule 1.3 by neglecting to provide competent legal counsel to his client, including failing to respond to the counterclaim and failing to respond to the motion for entry of default judgment.
Requires respondent to: (I) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in 1.0(f)(D, is required by these Rules; (2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished; (3) keep the client reasonably informed about the Status of the matter; [and] (4) promptly comply with reasonable information.
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
Allegedly, while the respondent is representing a client with respect to a trust agreement granting the client an option to purchase his father’s residence, and after filing a lawsuit asserting claims for fraud, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the defendants, the respondent started to neglect the matter for several months. He also admittedly misled his client regarding the case and failed to respond to the counterclaim filed by the opposing party.
The filing states:
“When Mr. Spurlock inquired as to the status Of the matter in January 2021, Respondent told him he was having “some issues getting one or two of the Defendants served” and assured him that they would be served by the end of the month. Respondent did not obtain service of process upon the defendants until early March 2021.”
The filing continues:
“On July 25, 2021, Respondent emailed a letter to David Spurlock in which he explained, “[The defendants] filed a response to our lawsuit I could not beat. They were right and I did not have the heart or the guts to tell you. What happened next was a mistake on my part and I don’t know how it happened. I completely missed the compulsory counterclaim. It didn’t ‘go into default’ because I don’t care, I just missed it, and for that I’m sorry.” On July 27, 2021, the Spurlocks wrote a letter to Judge Conder asking for time to find another attorney. The letter explained, “My wife and I were totally unaware that a counterclaim was filed in the case and worse, that the case was entering into default. One week ago, we discovered the problem and asked another attorney to handle that case that our current attorney has been neglecting.”
The filing further states:
“On July 14, 2022, Judge Conder issued an order granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss, denying the plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file an amended complaint and granting leave to set aside the default. In setting aside the default, Judge Conder cited Respondent’s affidavit as providing substantial sworn information regarding Respondent’s medical and psychological diagnoses, Respondent’s financial problems, Respondent’s ongoing treatment and medication regimen, and Respondent’s efforts to engage the Wyoming Lawyer Assistance Program (WyLAP) for assistance with his health challenges. Judge Conder noted that the Respondent admitted that he misled the Spurlocks regarding their case and that he failed to respond to the counterclaim. For these and other reasons, Judge Conder set aside the default that was entered against the Spurlocks on June 2, 2021.”
In relation to the admission of the respondent in regard to his violation of professional conduct along with the facts set in the proceedings, the court decided to disbar the respondent.
The Disposition states:
“ADJUDGED AND ORDERED that, as a result of the conduct set forth in the Report and Recommendation for Order of Disbarment, Respondent Collin C. Hopkins shall be, and hereby is, disbarred, effective October 31, 2022, which is the effective date of termination of Respondent’s membership in the Wyoming State Bar. Matter of Hopkins, 2022.”
Mr. Hopkins practices in Riverton, Wyoming. He is licensed in Wyoming. His info can be found on Facebook.com.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.