By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove is asking the Wyoming Supreme Court to reverse an order that bars audio or video recording during her disciplinary hearing.
Manlove, in a petition to the court, asked it to intervene in an order issued by the Board of Professional Responsibility shortly before her disciplinary hearing began Wednesday reversing an earlier decision allowing the live-streaming of the proceedings.
“In an eleventh-hour about-face, after first granting my request to live-stream the hearing, the (BPR) reversed its decision to allow live-streaming of the proceedings,” Manlove said in a statement. “Why, when all of the facts are finally coming to light and the issues being discussed are of such great significance to our community, has the hearing panel disallowed the public greater access?”
Manlove is appearing before a panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility, the group that oversees the behavior of attorneys, to defend herself against allegations she has failed to competently perform the duties of her office.
The hearing is into allegations brought by the Office of Bar Counsel, the attorney for the Wyoming State Bar, including that she exaggerated the impact of budget cuts on her office to dismiss almost 1,000 cases from Laramie County courts.
The Office of Bar Counsel is asking that Manlove be disciplined by the BPR, which will send its final recommendations on the matter to the Supreme Court for a final decision.
In late January, Christopher Hawks, the chairman of the BPR’s hearing panel, set out the rules for the proceedings and said live-streaming would be allowed if either the Office of State Bar or Manlove paid to live-stream all of the proceedings, which are scheduled to run through next week.
But on Tuesday, the day before Manlove’s hearing began, Hawks issued another order prohibiting the use of audio or video recorders, citing the common practice of Wyoming courts to ban the use of such devices during trial.
“Whereas, it is the practice of courts throughout the state not to allow audio and video recording devices in the courtroom during public hearings,” the order said. “The same practice shall be followed at the public hearing herein.”
Manlove, in her filing Tuesday with the Wyoming Supreme Court, said she had been willing to pay for the live-streaming, only to learn shortly before her hearing began it would not be allowed.
Manlove asked the justices to find that the BPR’s order was an abuse of discretion, particularly given what she said was the historic nature of the case.
“This is a crucially important case and one of first impression in the state of Wyoming,” she wrote. “In this case, the Office of Bar Counsel … seeks to remove Manlove from her duly elected office as the Laramie County District Attorney before the end of her term, using the lawyer disciplinary proceedings process as the vehicle, and based upon various allegations of lawyer misconduct — allegations that criticize Manlove’s office and personnel management, case management, prosecutorial discretion, and her response to the novel and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.”