By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Laramie County’s district attorney is asking for more time to prepare for a hearing on allegations she has not competently fulfilled the duties of her office.
Leigh Anne Manlove, in a motion filed by her attorney Stephen Melchior on Oct. 19, asked that she be given extra time to interview witnesses in her case for the pre-trial process known as “discovery.”
“The Oct. 22, 2021 discovery cut-off date in this matter is prejudicial to (Manlove) and does not provide her the time necessary to complete discovery in this case, and is further prejudicial in limiting her to the taking of 10 depositions, especially since 7 of the depositions are of the judges who waged the initial complaint in this matter, and since it is apparent on its face that both present and former employees of the DA’s office, and others, have information that is relevant to the allegations made in the formal charge,” the motion said.
But the special counsel to the Wyoming Bar Association, the group responsible for pursuing the complaint against Manlove, said she should have been working since late in 2020 to prepare a defense.
“From the time Manlove saw the seven judges’ letter in December of 2020, she knew there were perceived failures in her practice of law which would support the suspension of her license unless there was a ready defense like ‘it’s not really that bad,’ or ‘it’s a lot better now,’” the motion said. “She presents neither. Instead, she says she needs testimony from scores of people, without giving any hint of what they may say to help her, or which two or three are essential to her survival.”
No decision has been issued on the request.
The motions are the latest filed in the complaints against Manlove pending before the Board of Professional Responsibility, the group that oversees the behavior of Wyoming’s attorneys.
The complaints accuse her of improperly blaming police for errors that led to the release of two men accused of violent crimes and of she exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of hundreds of cases in Laramie County. The complaints are based in part on a letter signed by all of Laramie County’s district and circuit court judges in which the judges expressed “serious concerns about Ms. Manlove’s ability to fulfill her professional responsibilities and her responsibilities to this community.”
A hearing before the BPR, which will recommend any possible discipline against Manlove, is scheduled for Feb. 2 through 11. As part of that schedule, the “discovery” process was to be completed by Oct. 22.
But Manlove said she needs to take depositions from dozens of people, including some of the judges, and could not realistically meet the Oct. 22 deadline.
The motion also noted that the BPR only recently ruled on Manlove’s request to take depositions from all of Laramie County’s judges, so she has been limited in her ability to conduct interviews.
But W.W. Reeves, the special bar counsel in the state, said in his response to the request that Manlove should have been preparing a defense since the letter from the judges was distributed in December 2020.
Reeves also said that in the request for more time, Melchior did not specify what Manlove hoped to gain by interviewing a large number of witnesses.
“A critical failure of the motion … is that it gives no suggestion of what particular subjects for discovery, and which witnesses, are the most critical,” the response said. “Manlove just claims she needs it all, leaving no practical way to assess whether something less than 50 depositions, or about that many, would suffice.”
Reeves concluded the case needs to continue as scheduled.
“Manlove’s professional service for her client was prejudicial to the administration of justice, and the interest of justice can best be served by holding to the scheduling order,” he wrote. “Anything less will bring chaos and endless litigation of discovery motions.”