By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Continuing efforts to pursue disciplinary action against Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove are just an attempt to remove her from office without the consent of the county’s voters, she said.
Manlove, in her response to the latest complaint filed against her with the Professional Board of Responsibility, said she has been the subject of an unconstitutional and malicious attack on her “conservative leadership” by the Wyoming Bar’s Office of Bar Counsel.
“Bar counsel has harassed and tried to intimidate me in its unrelenting, unconstitutional and malicious attack to supersede the will of Laramie County voters by attempting to remove me as their elected (district attorney),” she said in a statement issued Tuesday, one day after she filed a response to the latest complaint filed against her.
In the response itself, Manlove did not elaborate on the comments that the complaints are an attack on her “conservative leadership.
”However, in the accompanying statement, she said she and Bar Counsel Mark Gifford disagreed over her statement that she would not prosecute anyone for not adhering to a face mask order in place in Laramie County in late 2020 and early 2021.
When the face mask requirement took effect on Nov. 2, 2020 by the Laramie County health officer, Manlove said she would not prosecute anyone for violation of the order.
The announcement led to a series of emails between Gifford and Manlove.
“On their face, those statements raise competence issues on your part,” Gifford wrote in one. “Others have opined that your conduct in making a public pronouncement that your office would not be enforcing the mask order before it went into effect is conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
In her Tuesday statement, Manlove did not specifically link her refusal to prosecute face mask cases to the action against her taken by the Office of Bar Counsel. However, her statement did say Laramie County voters could decide on their own if they agree with her position on the issue.
“If my constituents believe my position on the mask mandate was wrong, it is the people of Laramie County who should decide that — with their votes — and not an unelected individual whose powerful professional position enables him to dictate his personal agenda to the people of this community by attacking my competence and ethics,” she said. “Ultimately, the law and the facts will prove it is all meritless.”
Two formal complaints against Manlove are pending before the PBR, the organization that oversees the behavior of attorneys. The first, filed in June, accused her of failing to competently perform the duties of her office and said that among other things, she exaggerated budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases in Laramie County.
The second, filed in October, accused her of improperly blaming police for errors that led to the release of two men accused of violent crimes, including one accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.
In her formal response to the latest charge, Manlove denied the new allegations and said the Office of Bar Counsel failed to prove she had not carried out the duties of her office competently.
She also noted that she, as the county’s prosecutor, has sole judgment over whether charges should be pursued in a case, a decision the Wyoming Bar and its counsel have no influence over.
“The Office of Bar Counsel, which is under the administrative supervision of the Wyoming Supreme Court with the limited authority to regulate the practice of law and admit new attorneys, cannot act in the place of the executive branch,” the response said. “In other words, the OBC is the judicial branch of government and cannot compel the executive branch of government, through the district attorney, to prosecute a case.”
Manlove asked that the charge be dismissed and that the Office of Bar Counsel be required to pay Manlove’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.