By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A review of the formal charge against Laramie County’s district attorney can include the way she manages her office’s personnel and allegations that she violated federal labor laws, Wyoming’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
The court, in a one-page ruling, rejected a request from the Wyoming attorney general to remove the topics from consideration during a review of Leigh Anne Manlove’s actions while in office by the Wyoming Board of Professional Responsibility, a group that investigates allegations of misconduct against attorneys.
The order signed by Chief Justice Kate Fox is the latest filing in the charge filed against Manlove, who was elected to the office in 2018.
The charge filed with the BPR in June stems in part from allegations that when Manlove fired all of the office’s attorneys after taking the office in January 2019, she left the office unable to fulfill its obligations and that her management of personnel since continues to leave the office short-staffed.
The charge also include an allegation that Manlove directed her office staff not to file for overtime, a violation of federal labor laws.
The attorney general’s office, in a motion filed in July, said the BPR and Supreme Court have no authority over how Manlove manages her personnel or over federal labor laws and requested a “writ of prohibition” to keep those issues from being considered if a hearing on the charge is conducted.
The BPR, in its response, argued there is no reason for the issues not to be considered when the BPR and Supreme Court are trying to determine an attorney’s competence.
The BPR also argued that if the allegations about personnel management are accurate, then Manlove’s actions have hurt the administration of justice.
The Supreme Court’s order simply denied the attorney general’s request for a writ of prohibition.
The charge against Manlove is the result of three separate disciplinary investigations, one of which was launched after all of Laramie County’s judges wrote a letter citing concerns about her “ability to fulfill her professional responsibilities and her responsibilities to this community.”
In addition to the management issues, the charge alleged Manlove exaggerated budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases in circuit and district courts. She was also accused of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the case of a man accused of killing two people five days after being released from police custody on misdemeanor charges.