By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove is facing more than $200,000 in legal fees to pay for her defense against charges filed by an office of the Wyoming State Bar.
Manlove addressed the creation of a GoFundMe campaign to help with her expenses during a Wednesday interview on the radio program “Wake Up Wyoming,” hosted by Glenn Woods.
“Right now, [the bill is] sitting at over $200,000,” Manlove said. “I hate to ask people for help. But it’s gotten to the point where the financial pressure that the bar office is putting on me…[it’s difficult].”
As of Thursday, the GoFundMe campaign had raised $1,550 of its $200,000 goal. Manlove was an early donor, pitching in $20. The campaign was launched over the weekend.
The Office of Bar Counsel has filed charges against Manlove with the Board of Professional Responsibility, a group that oversees the actions of attorneys. In the charges, Manlove is accused of failing to competently fulfill the duties of her office.
“It’s really this very unprecedented and unusual situation where I’ve essentially had a lawsuit filed against me as a state employee, but rather than the Attorney General funding my defense, rather than the Attorney General defending me, which is what happens when a state employee is sued or claim brought against them, the agency’s office has refused to defend my ethics complaint,” Manlove told Woods.
“I can’t explain that. So my family and I have had to bear the cost of that legal defense entirely on our own.”
Manlove told the radio host she has worked hard to not bring issues stemming from the ethics complaint into her day-to-day life at work. Currently, the work being done in her office has been unaffected she said.
She noted that some of the criticism she has received has stemmed from her dismissal of 400 cases in late 2020 due to furloughs in her office and other financial and labor-related pressures.
“It is a lot of cases, but when you look at them, they were things like dog off the leash, failure to yield at the stop sign,” she said. “There were a handful of non-violent felony cases. If I have to prioritize my limited resources to ensure smaller government is happening, then I’m not going to prosecute those kinds of events.”
While she understood the criticism, she did not feel it was justified for a small group of people to try and supersede the will of Laramie County voters by removing her from office, she said.
Additionally, she claimed one of the reasons the allegations were filed against her was because she asked the Cheyenne Police Department to do more investigation in a case where a crime had been committed against a child.
“Instead of doing that, the lieutenant who was in charge of the detective division at the time worked with the City of Cheyenne and the Office of the Bar Counsel to file a lawsuit against me,” she said to Woods.
The Office of Bar Counsel is asking the BPR to recommend disciplinary action against Manlove. Any recommendations from the BPR will be forwarded to the Wyoming Supreme Court for final action.
A hearing before the BPR is to begin Feb. 2 at Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne.