The group that oversees the behavior of attorneys has no authority over how Laramie County’s district attorney handles overtime or personnel issues, according to the state’s attorney general.
The attorney general’s office, in a filing with the Wyoming Supreme Court, asked that the state’s Board of Professional Responsibility be prevented from considering allegations that Leigh Anne Manlove told her employees not to report their overtime in violation of federal labor laws.
“By considering alleged violations of federal law, the board is exceeding its jurisdiction which, in attorney disciplinary matters, is limited to adjudicating alleged violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, not alleged violations of federal law,” said the document filed with the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The motion to limit what the BPR can consider also asked that the board not look at personnel grievances and issues contained in the charge against Manlove filed by the special counsel for the Wyoming State Bar.
“Jurisdiction over personnel type grievances/matters rests with the (state) Department of (Administration and Information),” the filing said. “The (BPR) does not have independent jurisdiction to consider and make findings about the validity of personnel type grievances/matters in the first instance.”
The filing is the latest in the charge against Manlove, who was elected Laramie County’s district attorney in November 2018. In June, Weston Reeves, the special counsel for the bar, filed a charge against her with the state Board of Public Responsibility, accusing of violating the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct and failing to operate the district attorney’s office in a competent manner.
Reeves asked for a formal disciplinary hearing by the BPR. Any discipline recommended by the BPR will be reviewed by Supreme Court justices.
Reeves’ charge, filed with the BPR, said on her first day in office, Manlove fired almost all of the office’s attorneys and staff and that her actions later led to the departure of more staff members, leaving the office unable to function properly. Manlove, in her response to the charge, said the BPR has no authority over how she runs her office.
The attorney general’s office agreed.“(Rules of Professional Conduct) governs an attorney’s duty to provide competent representation to a client, however, the allegations about (federal labor law) violations and personnel grievances/matters are entirely unrelated to Manlove’s duty to a client,” the filing said. “As a result, the board has no jurisdiction to consider the (federal labor law) and personnel type allegations because they fall outside the duty of competency …”Any disciplinary hearing should not include references to the allegations, the attorney general’s office said, because any outcome could affect the state but the state would not have an opportunity to argue its side.“
Justice cannot stand for an end-run around the appropriate processes due to the state by simply allow the (BPR) to make findings that will directly affect the state’s interest and create potential liability,” the filing said.
The charge filed against Manlove stems from three separate disciplinary investigations. In addition to the personnel issues, it accuses Manlove of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the case of a man accused of killing two people after his release from jail and exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases.