Write On!, 0419 WYBJ, Vol. 42 No. 3. 44

Author:Michael R. Smith, University of Wyoming College of Law Laramie, Wyoming.
Position:Vol. 42 3 Pg. 44

Write On!

Vol. 42 No. 3 Pg. 44

Wyoming Bar Journal

April, 2019


on Rules With Multiple Levels of Sub-Rules: Backing Out the

Same Way You Went In

Michael R. Smith, University of Wyoming College of Law

Laramie, Wyoming.


a legal writer will encounter an issue that is governed by an

applicable rule, which in turn has an applicable sub-rule,

which in turn has an applicable sub-sub-rule, and

(potentially) on and on. This type of issue involves vertical

analysis because the issue starts with a broad rule and then

goes incrementally deeper and narrower in steps with

sub-rules and sub-sub-rules, all of which derive from and

further explicate the initial broad rule. While most legal

writers in this situation can effectively work their way

through the progressive steps of deeper analysis, some legal

writers struggle with stating a conclusion once the analysis

reaches the bottom of the vertical chain. Indeed, it is easy

for a writer to get lost in this type of vertical analysis

and, as a consequence, fail to provide an effective

conclusion that takes into account the multiple analytical

steps. The solution to this problem, however, is fairly

simple: a writer should conclude on a rule with multiple

levels of sub-rules by backing out of the analysis through

the same steps the writer used to go into the analysis.

By way

of illustration, let's consider the opinion of Wyoming

Supreme Court Justice Lynne Boomgaarden in the recent case of

In re Estate of Frank,1 In April of 2018, the

appellant in Frank, "applied for a decree of

summary distribution of real property of the estate of her

grandfather, Chris Robert Frank (Decedent)," who had

died way back in 1990.2 The appellant believed she was

entitled to a share of her grandfather's estate because

this share was supposed to have passed to her over the years

through various family members byway of wills and intestate

succession but none of these earlier transfers had been

formally probated.3 Thus, the appellant sought to have the

district court recognize her interest and decree a summary

distribution of it.4 The district court, however, held that

the appellant lacked standing as an applicant under the

summary distribution statute and denied her



issue on appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court was whether the

appellant did have the right to file an application for a

decree of summary distribution of her...

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