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Hon. William F. Downes

Hon. William F. Downes (Ret.)

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Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Employment Law
Energy & Utilities
Federal Judge
Personal Injury
Professional Liability
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. William F. Downes (Ret.) is a JAMS DENVER neutral.  JAMS Denver is a licensee office. Policies and procedures may differ between JAMS, Inc., and JAMS Denver. Please visit or contact Lisa Gaige at or 303-534-1254 for information related to JAMS Denver.

Since joining JAMS in 2011, Hon. William F. Downes (Ret.) has successfully resolved disputes over diverse practice areas including energy, personal injury and professional liability. Drawing upon his 17 years of experience as a federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming, Judge Downes brings to his ADR practice a great deal of insight on the legal process and numerous subject matters, enabling him to efficiently guide parties to settlement.

Judge Downes handles high profile cases in multiple states and he is known for his attentive, reasonable, and focused manner. He is praised by counsel for being extremely prepared and having a quick grasp of complex issues. Judge Downes has an innate ability to understand the reputations, emotions, and ongoing dynamics of a dispute, while still focusing the parties on resolution.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Served 17 years as a Federal Judge where he presided over hundreds of jury and bench trials 
  • Nineteen years of experience as a trial lawyer, where he tried numerous jury trials and handled hundreds of disputes
  • Throughout his career, he served as a visiting judge in the Districts of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, the Eastern and Northern Districts of Oklahoma and Utah


  • Settlement of breach of contract and fraud claims amongst investment partners proceeds from sale of foreign government bonds
  • Mediated DOJ claims of misuse of Small Business Association (SBA) loans
  • Trademark infringement
  • $9.9 million settlement of an attorney's fee dispute in a class-action


  • Race, gender and age discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination
  • Whistle blower dispute re: fraud and misrepresentation with regard to the funding of '504 loans'
  • Settlement of pre-litigation same sex sexual harassment by a supervisor of his male subordinates
  • Mediated dispute between employee of a school district for violation of her first amendment rights in 42 U.S.C. 1983 and retaliation/wrongful termination


  • Mediated disputes between oil companies and land owners, working and non-working interest owners
  • $25 million settlement involving breach of electrical power purchase agreement
  • $21 million settlement of breach of contract, inflated production costs between working interest owners and royalty interest owners


  • Mediated bad faith claims, first and third party
  • Settlement of subrogation case brought by insurance company against a manufacturer of defective product that caused fire in residential dwelling
  • Settlement of pre-litigation dispute between an employer medical company and the insurer of an employee benefit plan.

Personal Injury/Torts

  • $15 million settlement of multi-plaintiff wrongful death suit involving company vehicle and driver 
  • Settlement of claims of negligence at recreational area resulting in teen killed by falling tree
  • $2.2 million settlement of wrongful death case involving the death of a young father of two who was broadsided by a gas truck.
  • Settlement of a mistaken identity/false arrest against the town Police Department

Professional Liability

  • Medical malpractice 
    • Malpractice and negligence involving a death at a Senior Center
    • Settlement of wrongful death of a newborn at Medical Center, resulting in new protocol for nurses
    • Orthopedic case stemming from the alleged surgical negligence which led to the development of a complication (compartment syndrome)
    • Suit against a treating physician and medical center after the death of a patient from a sudden hypoglycemic event
  • Legal malpractice
    • Settlement involving allegations of inadequate representation in appeal of trademark/patent infringement
    • Settlement of alleged poor drafting of financing documents for a multi-million dollar development, which documents did not make adequate provision for borrower’s default
    • Settlement of alleged professional negligence in the appeal of a patent infringement case
    • Settlement of dispute between bank and law firm for the alleged miss drafting of commercial loan documents. Multi-million dollar settlement was achieved based upon mediator's recommendation
  • Mediated professional negligence by an accounting firm for allegedly failing to properly prepare tax returns and related documents for a corporation over three taxable years

Representative Matters

Judicial Career

  • Ayers v. University of Wyoming, Case No. 10-CV-079-WFD. Civil rights case regarding free speech and free association and assembly.
  • Federal Trade Commission v. Accusearch, Inc., Case No. 06-CV-105-WFD, affirmed by Federal Trade Commission v. Accusearch, Inc., 570 F.3d 1187 (10th Cir. 2009). Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case against the operator of a website alleging unfair business practice in violation of federal laws regarding the sale of personal data.
  • Echo Acceptance Corp. and Echosphere Corp. v. Household Retail Services, Inc., Case No. 95-WY-605-WD, affirmed by Echo Acceptance Corp. v. Household Retail Services, Inc., 267 F.3d 1068 (10th Cir. 2001). Business case involving a dispute over a credit and financing arrangement.
  • Affirmed by In re Natural Gas Royalties, 562 F.3d 1032 (10th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff filed numerous coordinated qui tam actions under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(7), alleging that natural gas companies had underpaid royalties on gas purchased from federally owned or Indian lands. The cases were transferred as multi-district litigation (MDL) to Judge Downes in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.
  • Jefferson County School Dist. No. R-1 v. Moody’s Investor’s Services, Inc., 988 F.Supp. 1341 (D. Colo. 1997), affirmed by Jefferson County School Dist. No. R-1 v. Moody’s Investor’s Services, Inc., 175 F.3d 848 (10th Cir. 1999). Case involving school district’s attempts to refinance its indebtedness by issuing refunding bonds. School district brought fraud charges and allegations of materially false statements against Moody’s for interfering in contractual relations between the school and their credit rating agencies.

Legal Career

  • Tried numerous professional malpractice cases, including medical malpractice cases to jury. Cases involved high emotions, professional reputations, complex medical and technical issues, as well as underlying insurance coverage considerations.
  • Tried cases involving fraud issues related to financial and banking institutions and their officers and directors
  • Handled multiple catastrophic personal injury cases
  • Handled numerous insurance cases, including cases with claims of bad faith, subrogation, indemnity, inter-carrier and insured-carrier disputes, and liability coverage issues

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Thurman Arnold Distinguished Support Award, University of Wyoming College of Law, 2014-2015
  • Honorary Professor of the State Educational Institute of Higher Professional Education, Saratov State Academy of Law, Saratov, Russian Federation, 2011
  • Co-founder, The Ewing T. Kerr Fellowship in American Law, University of Wyoming College of Law, 1997-2011
  • Member, Criminal Law Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, 2000-2006
  • Member, Wyoming State Bar, 1975-2015, Chair, Continuing Legal Education Committee, 1986-1990
  • Member, Colorado State Bar, 1988-present
  • Elected Member, American Law Institute, 2001-present
  • Judicial Council of the 10th Circuit, 2008-2010
  • AV Rated Lawyer, Martindale-Hubbell, 1988-1994
  • Best Lawyers in America, 1990-1994
  • Navy Commendation Medal with ‘V’; the Combat Action Ribbon and Vietnam Campaign Service Medal

Background and Education

  • U.S. District Judge, District of Wyoming, 1994-2011 
    • Chief Judge from 1999-2011
  • Partner, Brown & Drew Law Firm, Casper, Wyoming, 1978-1994
  • Partner, Clark & Downes, Green River, Wyoming, 1975-1978
  • U.S. Marine Corps, Active Duty 1968-1971
    • Released August, 1971 after service in Vietnam and Western Pacific
    • Honorably discharged with rank of Captain in 1980 
  • J.D., University of Houston Law Center, 1974 
  • B.A. Political Science, University of North Texas, 1968


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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