Former Tribal Judge Suspended From Law By Wyoming Supreme Court

This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The former chief judge for the Wind River Indian Reservation Tribal Court was suspended from practicing law Wednesday by the Wyoming Supreme Court because of issues stemming from her conviction on federal drug charges.

Justices, ruling on a recommendation from the Wyoming State Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility, said Terri Virginia Smith would be suspended from practicing law until a resolution can be reached regarding disciplinary action by the board.

Smith pleaded guilty in 2019 in federal court to charges of conspiracy to deliver oxycodone and distribution of cocaine. She and her sister were both charged based on an investigation conducted by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs that began in 2018.

At the time of the investigation, Smith served as chief tribal judge on the reservation, although she later resigned.

The state Board of Professional Responsibility, which monitors the actions of attorneys around the state and disciplines then for violations of rules of professional behavior, began disciplinary proceedings against Smith in October on the grounds she had been convicted of a serious crime.

The board told the Supreme Court that it was working with Smith on a resolution of the formal charge and recommended she not be suspended from practicing law at that time.

However, in January, the board and Smith told the Supreme Court that a resolution was not approved by the Board of Professional Responsibility, according to the Supreme Court’s order.

As a result, the court decided to suspend Smith until the disciplinary proceedings can be completed.

Also suspended Wednesday was Donald Tolin of Casper, who was accused of being uncooperative with the Wyoming State Bar.

Acting again on the recommendations of the Board of Professional Responsibility, the court said Tolin would be suspended from practicing law “pending final resolution of the formal charge that has been, or will be, filed against him…”

According to the order, the board said Tolin had not provided documents and information it had requested.

The order did not specify why the board was seeking information from Tolin.

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