By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Another formal charge against Laramie County’s district attorney has been filed with the group that oversees the behavior of Wyoming’s attorneys, this one accusing her of improperly blaming police for errors that led to the release of two men accused of violent crimes.
The latest charge filed with the Board of Professional Responsibility on Oct. 18 alleged that Leigh Anne Manlove’s actions led to the release of two men, including one accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.
“These are a continued demonstration of her lack of competence, her lack of candor and indefensible decision-making on her part that is plainly prejudicial to the administration of justice in Laramie County,” said the charge, filed by W. W. Reeves, special counsel for the State Bar. “She is a persistent and ongoing threat to public safety in Cheyenne.”
Manlove, elected to office in November 2018, is already facing a formal charge before the Board of Professional Responsibility on allegations she has failed to “competently perform the duties of her office” by exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of hundreds of cases in Laramie County. In that charge, filed in June, Manlove was also accused of incorrectly blaming her predecessor in the office for delays in court proceedings and failing to follow through on the prosecution of two men accused of dangerous crimes.
The most recent complaint accuses Manlove of lying about evidence in two cases that ended with the two men being released.
The complaint stems from Manlove’s handling of one case involving a man accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl and another involving a convicted violent felon.
In the sexual abuse case, the Cheyenne Police Department recommended the prosecution of the man, but Manlove declined to prosecute the case.
The complaint said police collected DNA evidence, but Manlove made her decision not to prosecute without looking at the lab results, which were stored on a website designed to be accessed by law enforcement officers such as prosecutors.
Manlove blamed the police for failing to deliver the results of the DNA analysis even though they had posted the results on the website for access by her office.
“Manlove knew that excuse was baseless,” the charge said. “The results were positive and provided conclusive support for the victim’s statement.”
In the other case, about one year earlier, a man convicted of four prior felonies was charged with first-degree sexual assault, strangulation of a household member, domestic battery and other crimes. The man’s defense attorney asked to see some of the evidence against his client so he could ask that it be excluded from his trial.
Manlove failed to submit the evidence and the case against the man was dismissed.
The evidence included reports of DNA analysis from the Wyoming State Crime Lab, which the complaint said was posted on the website.
But Manlove blamed the Cheyenne Police Department for failing to send her office the DNA test results.
“Manlove knew from an experience one month earlier that the lab reports were available on her computer via the (website) … “ the complaint said.
The charge alleged that the problems stem largely from Manlove’s decision to fire all but one of the office’s prosecutors on her first day in office, resulting in a loss of institutional knowledge.
“These conditions resulted in inadequately trained and overworked employees in a hostile work environment, delayed prosecutions, late court filings, missed court appearances, failures to comply with court orders, and late delivery of evidence to defense counsel, all covered over with unfounded excuses,” it said.
The charge asked for a formal hearing before the Board of Responsibility that would result in a recommendation for discipline to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
A phone call to Manlove and an email to her attorney, Stephen Melchior, were not immediately returned.