Testimony and evidence offered during the disciplinary hearing into Laramie County’s district attorney proved she had not competently fulfilled the duties of her office, according to a document filed with the Wyoming Supreme Court.
The special counsel for the Wyoming State Bar, in the latest filing in the disciplinary proceedings against Leigh Anne Manlove, denied Manlove’s earlier claims that the Board of Professional Responsibility did not pay enough attention to the witnesses in her favor during her disciplinary hearing before the board.
Weston W. Reeves argued in the Friday filing that the testimony offered instead proved that Manlove has not competently fulfilled the duties of her office.
“The administration of criminal justice in Laramie County has been in shambles since Jan. 8, 2019, when Manlove took office and fired the majority of her employees without having an effective transition plan in place,” his statement said. “As a result of her incompetence in the position, the community of Cheyenne has suffered. Lives have been lost. Thousands of cases go unprosecuted. The judges are beside themselves.”
The Board of Professional Responsibility in February held a hearing into complaints against Manlove filed by Reeves that alleged she has failed to properly carry out the duties of her office.
Manlove was accused of, among other things, exaggerating the impact of budget cuts to her office to dismiss hundreds of cases in Laramie County courts.
The BPR recommended that Manlove be barred from the practice of law, a recommendation that has been forwarded to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which will make the final decision on the recommendation.
In her response to the BPR’s report, Manlove said the BPR panel hearing her case did not pay sufficient attention to witnesses and evidence offered in her defense. She also argued the BPR’s recommendation of disbarment was not in keeping with the scope of the allegations against her.
But Reeves, in his reply to Manlove’s response, said the hearing revealed that Manlove should be disbarred so Laramie County can begin the process of repairing its district attorney’s office.
“It will be years before the people of Laramie County can be served by a rebuilt district attorney’s office which can meet its obligations to the public,” it said. “The time to start that process is now.”
Conditions in the district attorney’s office have not changed since Laramie County’s seven district and circuit court judges sent a letter to the Wyoming bar expressing concern over the office, Reeves said..
“The conditions which produced the judge’s letter to Bar counsel … were unchanged more than a year later at the time of the hearing,” the reply said. “Manlove blamed everything on budget cuts but lawyers leaving her employment and her incompetence were the real causes of the office failures.”
Evidence offered during the hearing also showed that Manlove declined to take responsibility for problems in her office, the document said.
“The panel’s findings and recommendations are supported by clear and convincing evidence of pervasive failure in all areas of Manlove’s work,” it said. “She acted as if an elected official was beyond censure or restraint and chaos was the result. She wanted a new staff, but because of the chaos, lawyers rotated in and out. The work did not get done and the cases piled up. Then the budget cuts arrived with a timely excuse to simply refuse to do the job she was elected to do.”