Laramie County’s prosecuting attorney is dropping arguments that disciplinary action proposed against her is the result of personal and political bias against her position on mask mandates.
Leigh Anne Manlove, in a request filed with the state Board of Professional Responsibility, said she has not been able to prove that bias against her position prompted the special counsel for the Wyoming State Bar to launch disciplinary action against her.
“(Manlove) has not received through her discovery evidence to adequately support her said affirmative defense … and therefore believes it necessary, under the circumstances, and in good faith, to withdraw such affirmative defense at this time,” the motion said.
Manlove faces a charge from the Office of Bar Counsel that she has failed to competently fulfill the duties of her office. The allegations include one that Manlove exaggerated budget pressures faced by her office to dismiss almost 1,000 cases in Laramie County and another that she improperly blamed police for errors that led to the release of two men accused of violent crimes.
The Office of Bar Counsel is asking the Board of Professional Responsibility to recommend disciplinary action against Manlove. Any recommendations from the BPR will be forwarded to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
In her response to the allegations against her, Manlove alleged that the Mark Gifford, the special Bar counsel, took action against her because of her position on mask mandates.
During an interview on a Cheyenne radio station in October 2020, Manlove said she would not pursue charges against anyone for violations of a mask mandate put in place by the Laramie County Department of Health.
“Formal charges filed against (Manlove) … result in part from, and are in part motivated by (Gifford’s) personal and political bias against (Manlove) … because of (Gifford’s) affront and outrage at and against … Manlove regarding her position on COVID-19 related mask mandates and her announcement .. that she would not prosecute violations of a Laramie County Health Officer Public Health Order,” her response to the charges said.
But without evidence to support the statement, Manlove on Dec. 28 asked that it be removed from her response.
The BPR approved the motion.
In a related development, the Wyoming Supreme Court declined to review an order from the BPR setting time limits on Manlove’s efforts to defend herself against the allegations.
The BPR had set a deadline of Wednesday for the collection of evidence in Manlove’s defense and scheduled a hearing on the allegations to begin Feb. 2.
Manlove in November asked the Supreme Court to give her more time, saying the BPR’s deadlines denied her “right to engage in relevant discovery relative to the allegations made against her and in support of her defenses.”
Justices, without comment, denied Manlove’s request in a Dec. 21 order.