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Leigh Anne Manlove

Wyoming State Bar Says Laramie County DA Leigh Ann Manlove Is Not Competent

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

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.”

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Wyo Bar Says Interest In Laramie County DA Forced Them To Hold Hearing At Large Hotel Costing $91,000

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Unprecedented media interest and a lack of available space forced the Wyoming State Bar to schedule February’s disciplinary hearing for Laramie County’s district attorney at Little America Hotel in Cheyenne, the Bar said.

In a document filed Monday in the ongoing case of Leigh Anne Manlove, the clerk to the Board of Professional Responsibility defended the $91,000 expense Manlove has been asked to pay to cover the cost of her disciplinary hearing held in February.

“The unprecedented press coverage … along with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, were both significant factors in seeking a large meeting space for the hearing in order to accommodate anticipated attendance by the public and the media in a safe manner as dictated by social distancing guidelines,” said the statement by Brandi Robinson.

The Wyoming Supreme Court is deciding whether to adopt the Board of Professional Responsibility’s recommendation that Manlove be barred from the practice of law and that she be required to pay more than $91,000 to cover the expenses of 8-day her disciplinary hearing.

The hearing in February was held for the Board of Professional Responsibility to hear allegations that as Laramie County district attorney, Manlove has failed to competently carry out the duties of her office. Among other things, she was accused of exaggerating budget pressures to dismiss hundreds of cases pending in Laramie County courts.

Manlove has objected to the Board of Professional Responsibility’s recommendation that she pay the cost of the hearing, noting the proceeding could have been held elsewhere for less.

“The Office of Bar Counsel’s willingness to expend (State Bar) resources in this way is outrageous and no doubt it was done with the full confidence and expectation that Manlove would be reimbursing the (State Bar) in the end,” said Manlove’s response to the BPR’s findings, which was filed Friday.

But Robinson, in her filing, said media coverage of Manlove’s case made State Bar officials believe a large space would be needed for the hearing.

“Our concerns regarding the need for a large hearing space were confirmed when, during the week before the hearing was scheduled to begin, (Manlove) gave radio interviews in which she encouraged members of the public to attend the hearing,” the document said.

Robinson said her office looked at several alternatives, including Laramie County Community College, Cheyenne school facilities, the Cheyenne Civic Center and various county courtrooms, but either they lacked the necessary space or were not available.

The Bar went so far as to ask or a bid from Little America in September, only to continue the search for a facility when staff members learned the cost.

“Upon learning what the costs would be, the Bar staff went back to the drawing board to find a more affordable alternative,” Robinson’s statement said.

But after failing to find a venue by November, the Bar decided to reserve Little America for the hearing, Robinson said.

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Embattled Laramie County DA Submits Defense Documents Late, Claims Computer Glitch

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove’s defense to the allegations against her is flawed and she should be allowed to file a new version, according to her attorney.

However, the attorney for the Wyoming State Bar who headed the investigation into allegations of incompetence on Manlove’s part is asking the Wyoming Supreme Court to deny the request of D. Stephen Melchior.

Wyoming’s Supreme Court is to determine whether it will accept the recommendation of the state Board of Professional Responsibility, the group responsible for overseeing the behavior of attorneys, to bar Manlove from the practice of law.

The recommendation stems from an investigation conducted by Weston W. Reeves into allegations Manlove has failed to competently carry out the duties of her office. The recommendation was the result of a lengthy disciplinary hearing in February. 

Manlove was given until May 2 to file her point-by-point rebuttal to the conclusions and recommendations reached by the BPR, but a computer glitch delayed delivery of the document until the early morning hours of May 3, Melchior said in court documents.

Melchior the delay was the result of a computer glitch and asked the court to accept Manlove’s defense even though it was submitted late.

“(Melchior’s) computer word processing software experienced an unforeseen and never before experienced glitch … causing a formatting issue to (the defense) as it as being finalized in preparation for filing,” his motion said. “(Melchior) comes before this court once again humbled and embarrassed to have to ask the court for leave to accept a late filing …”

Reeves agreed to the delay on behalf of the BPR and it was approved by the court.

But in a separate request filed Wednesday, Melchior said the glitch also resulted in him sending the court an early draft of Manlove’s defense and he asked for permission to submit a corrected document.

The document is missing several crucial pieces, Melchior said, such as some legal citations, and contains mistakes such as typographical errors and duplicate paragraphs.

“(Melchior) is beside himself, and, quite frankly, embarrassed, over such misfilings for several reasons, not the least of which is fear that his error may reflect poorly on (Manlove) when it was not her fault,” the request said.

But Reeves objected, saying since he has no idea what Manlove may submit, it should not be admitted by the court.

“The present motion says that the … filing was an earlier draft of what she intended to file,” Reeves’ response said. “We have not been shown what she intended to file, or any evidence when it was completed.”

Reeves did agree that the initial response was lacking some necessary elements.

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Laramie County DA Facing Disbarment: Disciplinary Board Didn’t Pay Attention

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The board that recommended disbarment for Laramie County’s district attorney did not pay enough attention to the witnesses testifying in her favor, she said in documents filed with the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Leigh Anne Manlove on Monday filed her response to the Board of Professional Responsibility’s report on complaints filed against her and its recommendation that she be barred from practicing law.

In the 64-page document, Manlove said the BPR paid too much attention to testimony from witnesses called on behalf of the office of bar counsel, the individual responsible for investigating claims against attorneys, and not enough to witnesses called on her behalf.

“The BPR Panel markedly discounted the testimony of Manlove and her witnesses” her response said. “The Panel gave full credence to (special bar counsel’s) witnesses, but expressed distrust of Manlove and her legal assistant … The testimony given by Manlove’s ‘credible’ witnesses was of ‘little value’ to the panel.”

She also said the BPR had failed to prove its allegations that she had failed to competently fulfill the duties of her office, that its recommended punishment of disbarment is not in keeping with the allegations against her and that she was the victim of a concerted effort to remove her from office.

The Wyoming Supreme Court will make the final decision on whether Manlove will be barred from the practice of law as recommended by the BPR.

The recommendation stems from complaints filed against Manlove by Bar Counsel Mark Gifford that she failed to competently perform the duties of her office.

Among other things, Manlove was accused of exaggerating budget pressures to dismiss almost hundreds of cases in Laramie County courts and creating a shortage of attorneys in her office by firing most of the attorneys who had been employed by her predecessor, Jeremiah Sandberg.

The complaints were submitted to the BPR for a disciplinary hearing in February and at its conclusion, the BPR recommended Manlove be disbarred for misconduct in her job.

But Manlove disputed the findings of the BPR in her response, noting at one point that while she had fired four of the five attorneys working in the district attorney’s office in her first day in office, within three days, her office staff was back up to five.

When the COVID-19 pandemic and oil and gas industry slumps forced cuts in state spending — including the amount spent on district attorney offices in Laramie and Natrona counties — both Manlove and Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen told legislators they would have to cut down on what their offices did.

“No judge, panel member, SBC nor the office of Bar Counsel has suggested that Mr. Itzen ‘exaggerated’ his concerns about the budget cuts or suggested ‘misrepresentation’ by Mr. Itzen,” the response said.

Manlove was also criticized for suggesting that law enforcement officers prosecute their own minor traffic offenses when defendants represented themselves. But she noted the practice had been used by the district attorney’s office in the past.

Manlove’s office continued to prosecute certain crimes even though it had identified them as non-priority cases in a letter explaining some of the cutbacks that might have to be adopted because of budget cuts, the response said.

“Notwithstanding such announcement, the (district attorney’s office) evaluated, charged and prosecuted cases with the non-priority case categories she announced,” it said.

The number of cases dismissed has also been exaggerated by the office of bar counsel, the response said.

“There is no testimony or evidence, let alone clear and convincing evidence, that Manlove actually dismissed entire categories of cases, nor that the cases that were dismissed … resulted in public safety being jeopardized,” it said.

Manlove also noted that a judge had to approve the dismissal of each case.

Manlove also repeated her claims that one of her colleagues, Caitlin Harper, worked with the bar counsel to have her removed from office so Harper could take her place as district attorney.

Manlove said Harper had been complaining about the way Manlove ran the district attorney’s office to the county’s judges, who later sent a letter to the bar counsel urging action. The BPR rejected Manlove’s arguments.

“In fact, there is ample testimony and evidence to the contrary of the BPR’s finding,” the response said. “It was made clear in the record that Ms. Harper as the sole person talking to the judges about the (district attorney’s office.”

Manlove also alleged the was the target of “personal animus” by bar counsel Gifford.

All told, the BPR failed to prove the allegations against Manlove, she said, and even if it had proven the allegations, it has recommended a punishment greater than that recommended by the American Bar Association, which range from a private reprimand to a public censure.

The response also criticized the BPR’s recommendation that Manlove be forced to reimburse the Wyoming Bar $91,000 for the expense of the disciplinary hearing at Cheyenne’s Little America.

“The Office of Bar Counsel’s willingness to expend (State Bar) resources in this way is outrageous and no doubt it was done with the full confidence and expectation that Manlove would be reimbursing the WSB in the end,” the response said.

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State Legal Panel Says Laramie County D.A. Should Pay $91,000 For Hearing Expenses

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A group that oversees Wyoming’s attorneys is asking that Laramie County’s district attorney be required to pay more than $91,000 in expenses for the hearing into allegations against her.

The Board of Professional Responsibility, in its recommendation to the Wyoming Supreme Court, asked that Leigh Anne Manlove be required to repay the Wyoming State Bar almost $91,197 for expenses related to the eight-day hearing by the Board of Professional Responsibility.

The recommendation is one of several included in the BPR’s final report on allegations Manlove has failed to competently carry out the duties of her office. The report also recommends that Manlove be barred from the practice of law. 

The Wyoming Supreme Court will decide on whether the BPR’s recommendations will be followed.

An affidavit filed with the BPR’s report on allegations against Manlove showed that the largest share of the expenses, almost $64,636, was for lodging, meals, meeting space and audio-visual needs at Cheyenne’s Little America, where the hearing was held.

The affidavit was released Tuesday along with other documents in response to a motion by Manlove to make the documents in her case a matter of public record.

According to the affidavit, meeting space at Little America for the hearings ran at least $1,500 per day. On one day of the hearing, Feb. 4, the cost for the meeting room increased to $2,600.

A second, smaller meeting room set up for meals for BPR members and staff cost another $350 per day and wireless internet service, with a download speed of 25 megabytes per second, cost $825 per day.

Transcripts of the proceedings cost $12,882, the affidavit said, and expenses for the special bar counsel, the attorney in charge of the investigation into allegations against Manlove, were $9,332.

The February hearing was held to allow the BPR to study the allegations against Manlove and determine what action to recommend to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

The charges against Manlove, elected to office in 2018, included allegations she exaggerated the impact of budget cuts on her office to dismiss almost 1,000 cases from Laramie County courts.

The special counsel for the state bar, W.W. Reeves, began his investigation into the allegations after all seven of Laramie County’s judges wrote a letter expressing concerns about her performance in office.

Manlove has until May 2 to submit her response to the BPR’s recommendations.

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Panel Report: Laramie County DA Manlove Not Competent, Should Be Disbarred

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie County’s district attorney has failed to competently carry out the duties of her office and has consistently blamed that failure on others, according to a report issued by the group that oversees attorneys.

The Board of Professional Responsibility said in its formal report on the February hearing of Leigh Anne Manlove that her actions have hurt the cause of justice in Laramie County, leading to its recommendation to the Wyoming Supreme Court that she be barred from practicing law.

“Considering the broad range of Ms. Manlove’s misconduct and its impact upon the administration of criminal justice in Laramie County, the hearing panel finds that the presumptive discipline … is disbarment,” said the report, which was released Friday. 

“Ms. Manlove’s course of conduct clearly demonstrates that she does not understand the most fundamental legal doctrines or procedures, and such conduct caused serious injury to the administration of criminal justice in Laramie County,” the report added.

The hearing stemmed from formal complaints filed against Manlove by the Office of Bar Counsel, the individual charged with looking into allegations against attorneys.

The first formal complaint was filed against Manlove in June 2021 and was prompted in part by a letter by all seven of Laramie County’s judges expressing concern about her performance.

Among other things, she was accused of exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of hundreds of cases in circuit and district court. She was also accused of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the case of a man accused of killing two people five days after being released from police custody because of a procedural error.

Manlove will be allowed an opportunity to respond to the report before it is submitted to the Wyoming Supreme Court for its decision.

In the months leading up to the hearing, Manlove alleged the disciplinary process was the result of a concerted attempt to remove her from office.

The BPR, however, rejected the argument said it showed a pattern on Manlove’s part to blame others for the problems in her office.

“The spectacle (Manlove) has turned this proceeding into, complete with talk radio interviews … and press releases, has created an unfortunate and unnecessary diversion from the issues before this panel,” the report said. “Simply put, it evidenced (Manlove’s) continued refusal to acknowledge and to take responsibility for her misconduct.”

The report also noted that under Wyoming law, it is doubtful Manlove could be removed from office, even if she were disbarred.

Manlove was elected in 2018 and took over the office on Jan. 8, 2019, when she fired all but one of the office’s seven lawyers. While five new lawyers were added to the staff by February of 2019, the report said the firings and later turnover continues to leave the office “chronically understaffed.”

The resulting dismissal of about 700 cases was the result of understaffing, the report said, not budget cuts.

“The panel finds that Ms. Manlove unnecessarily seized upon a 6% budget cut to prematurely and arbitrarily reduce the services performed by her office by more than 50%,” it said.

Manlove also did not accurately explain why she took certain actions, the report said.

“Ms. Manlove engaged in a pattern of neglect, thereby causing serious injury to the administration of criminal justice on Laramie County,” it said. “Ms. Manlove improperly withheld material information and submitted false reasons for declining to charge cases. 

“In this regard, Ms. Manlove intended to deceive the court, making numerous false statements, published numerous false documents, and caused injury to the administration of justice in Laramie County,” it added.

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Manlove’s Request To Stream Disciplinary Hearing Denied — 11 Days After Hearing’s End

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s Supreme Court has denied, 11 days after it ended, a request by Laramie County’s district attorney that her disciplinary hearing be recorded.

The court on Tuesday rejected the request of Leigh Anne Manlove to allow the live-streaming of her hearing before the Board of Professional Responsibility, which ended on Feb. 11.

The ruling came 21 days after Manlove submitted a request for an emergency order from the court to allow her to record and live-stream the proceedings.

“After careful review of the petition, the materials attached thereto, and this file, this court finds the (request) should be denied,” said the order, signed by Chief Justice Kate Fox.

The BPR is the body that oversees the behavior of attorneys. Manlove’s hearing, which began Feb. 2 and ended Feb. 11, allowed the Office of Bar Counsel to present its allegations against the district attorney and seek discipline.

The charges raised included allegations Manlove exaggerated the impact of budget cuts on her office to dismiss almost 1,00 cases from Laramie County courts.

The BPR’s three-member hearing pane concluded that Manlove violated multiple rules of professional conduct and should be barred from the practice of law.

The chairman of the BPR’s hearing panel, Christopher Hawks, ruled in late January that live-streaming of the proceedings would be allowed if the State Bar or Manlove would pay the cost.

Manlove said she would pay for the live-streaming, but then Hawks reversed his earlier stance and ruled on Feb. 1, the day before Manlove’s hearing began, that video or audio recording of the proceedings would not be allowed.

Manlove on Feb. 1 asked for an order overturning Hawks’ decision, saying it was important members of the public be able to watch the hearing given its historic nature.

“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.”

The Supreme Court’s order did not address Manlove’s arguments but simply denied her request.

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Panel To Recommend Laramie County DA Manlove For Disbarment

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The group overseeing the behavior of attorneys will recommend Laramie County’s District Attorney be disbarred for violating multiple rules of professional conduct, a Wyoming State Bar Association spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

Brandi Robinson, Board of Professional Responsibility clerk, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the board’s three-member hearing panel, after more than a week of hearings, will recommend to the Wyoming Supreme Court that Leigh Anne Manlove be barred from the practice of law.

Manlove’s disciplinary hearing began on Feb. 2, and on Thursday, the panel found her in violation of several rules of professional conduct, including engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Manlove will be able to appeal the decision.

The hearing was to held to investigate allegations against Manlove 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.

In a late January interview, Manlove noted that some of the criticism she has received has stemmed from her decision to dismiss 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 said 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 told radio host Glenn Woods.

A GoFundMe campaign to help Manlove pay for her legal fees was also launched last month. It has raised about $3,100 of its $20,000 goal as of Friday.

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Manlove Wants Her Disciplinary Hearing Live-Streamed; Asks Supreme Court to Intervene

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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.”

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Laramie County DA Says Legal Costs Exceeding $200K; Says Police Did Shoddy Work

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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.

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GoFundMe Launched In Support Of Embattled Laramie County District Attorney

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A GoFundMe campaign in support of embattled Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove was launched over the weekend.

As of about noon Tuesday, “Fight Cancel Culture in Laramie County” had raised $295 of its goal to raise $20,000 to help Manlove pay to defend herself against allegations raised by the Wyoming Bar Association’s Office of Bar Counsel, according to a post accompanying the GoFundMe page.

In the campaign description, organizer Andrew Rathbun claimed the Office of Bar Counsel has launched an unprecedented effort to remove Manlove, an elected official, from office.

“Never before in the State of Wyoming has there been an effort by the Office of Bar Counsel and judges to attempt to remove a duly elected prosecuting attorney from office because they disagree with her public policy decisions, the way she manages her office, the manner in which she handled mandatory COVID-19 budget cuts, and the manner in which she exercised her prosecutorial discretion in her capacity as the Laramie County District Attorney,” Rathbun wrote in the campaign description.

The Office of Bar Counsel is asking the Board of Professional Responsibility, the group that oversees the behavior of attorneys, to find that Manlove has failed to competently fulfill the duties of her office.

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 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.

Rathbun is raising money Manlove’s legal defense because the Wyoming Attorney General has been “unable” to fund it, despite the fact that in her position, Manlove is a state employee, he said.

In addition, as a public attorney, Manlove cannot get the malpractice insurance that would defend her against a lawsuit, Rathbun said.

“As a public attorney, a prosecutor, Ms. Manlove cannot get malpractice insurance because the AG is supposed to defend her in lawsuits brought against State employees,” the campaign statement said. “This inability to fund Ms. Manlove’s legal defense by the AG is also unprecedented. Ms. Manlove and her family have suffered significant financial harm because of this case, having to bear the costs of her defense from her own statutorily established salary for District Attorneys.”

Rathbun argued that the Office of Bar Counsel has failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove its allegations against Manlove. He also questioned whether the office is acting appropriately in its “campaign” to remove Manlove from her elected office.

“Why should 7 judges and 1 Bar Counsel have more power in an election outcome than over 2/3 of the voters in Laramie County?” he wrote.

One of the investigations that led the Office of Bar Counsel to file charges against Manlove stemmed from a letter from all seven of Laramie County’s judges expressing concern over how her office was operating.

Rathbun claimed the allegations basically boiled down to “office management matters” involving the inner workings of the DA’s office, which are within the attorney’s managerial and prosecutorial discretion.

He also questioned whether the bar counsel has or should have jurisdiction to prosecute Manlove regarding discretionary matters inherent within an elected office, including matters of prosecutorial discretion, office management and personnel management. He added whether the BPR should decline to give the bar counsel the forum in which to so act.

“This is a case that should have never been,” Rathbun wrote. “Please help Ms. Manlove, our duly elected Laramie County District Attorney, and her family, continue to fight this overreach by unelected officials who have clearly crossed a very important line and who appear to disagree with her conservative politics. Please donate to her legal defense fund.”

Manlove was an earlier contributor to the page, donating $20.

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Manlove Drops Argument That Charges Against Her Are Because Of Her Position on Mask Mandate

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

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.

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Officer Denies Manlove’s Request For Hearing Delay, Provides More Time To Collect Evidence

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A request from Laramie County’s district attorney to push back the date of her hearing before a group that oversees the behavior of attorneys has been denied, although she has been given more time to collect evidence in her case.

However, Christopher Hawks, chair of the hearing panel for the Board of Professional Responsibility, warned Leigh Anne Manlove against asking for any more delays in the hearing into allegations against her or seeking to add to the number of people she can interview to collect information.

“This hearing panel has gone to great lengths to afford (Manlove) the opportunity to engage in full and fair discovery to defend the formal charges against her,” read Hawks’ order denying Manlove’s request for a delay. “This hearing panel will not look favorably upon additional motions to continue or for additional discovery unless such motions are supported by far greater factual detail than (Manlove’s) prior motions and include compelling arguments, well-grounded in both fact and law.”

Manlove faces a formal charge before the BPR that she has not competently fulfilled the duties of the job she was elected to in November 2018, based in part on allegations that she exaggerated budget pressures to dismiss almost 1,000 cases in Laramie County and that she improperly blamed police for errors that led to the release of two men accused of violent crimes.

A hearing before the PRB on the charge is scheduled for Feb. 2-11 and on Oct. 19, Manlove asked for a delay in the hearing and for more time to collect evidence in support of her case, a process known as “discovery.”

Hawks, in his Thursday order, declined to postpone the hearing, but did allow Manlove until Jan. 5 for the discovery process.

The charge against Manlove is the result of several investigations launched by the Office of Bar Counsel to the Wyoming Bar and stems in part from a letter expressing concerns about her performance in office sent by all seven of Laramie County’s circuit and district court judges.

As part of her work to collect evidence, Manlove asked for subpoenas to interview 48 witnesses, including all seven of the judges.“(Manlove) has failed to establish good cause for the number and duration of the depositions she seeks to take in these maters,” the order said.

Hawks’ order allowed Manlove to take depositions from all seven judges, but said she must limit the depositions to two hours each. He also ruled that including any judges, Manlove can take depositions from only 19 people and can spend a total of only 70 hours doing so.

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Manlove Calls Continuing Disciplinary Efforts A Malicious Attack

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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.

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Laramie County DA Asks For More Time To Prepare For Incompetency Trial

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie County’s district attorney is asking for more time to prepare for a hearing on allegations she has not competently fulfilled the duties of her office.

Leigh Anne Manlove, in a motion filed by her attorney Stephen Melchior on Oct. 19, asked that she be given extra time to interview witnesses in her case for the pre-trial process known as “discovery.”

“The Oct. 22, 2021 discovery cut-off date in this matter is prejudicial to (Manlove) and does not provide her the time necessary to complete discovery in this case, and is further prejudicial in limiting her to the taking of 10 depositions, especially since 7 of the depositions are of the judges who waged the initial complaint in this matter, and since it is apparent on its face that both present and former employees of the DA’s office, and others, have information that is relevant to the allegations made in the formal charge,” the motion said.

But the special counsel to the Wyoming Bar Association, the group responsible for pursuing the complaint against Manlove, said she should have been working since late in 2020 to prepare a defense.

“From the time Manlove saw the seven judges’ letter in December of 2020, she knew there were perceived failures in her practice of law which would support the suspension of her license unless there was a ready defense like ‘it’s not really that bad,’ or ‘it’s a lot better now,’” the motion said. “She presents neither. Instead, she says she needs testimony from scores of people, without giving any hint of what they may say to help her, or which two or three are essential to her survival.”

No decision has been issued on the request.

The motions are the latest filed in the complaints against Manlove pending before the Board of Professional Responsibility, the group that oversees the behavior of Wyoming’s attorneys.

The complaints accuse her of improperly blaming police for errors that led to the release of two men accused of violent crimes and of she exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of hundreds of cases in Laramie County. The complaints are based in part on a letter signed by all of Laramie County’s district and circuit court judges in which the judges expressed “serious concerns about Ms. Manlove’s ability to fulfill her professional responsibilities and her responsibilities to this community.”

A hearing before the BPR, which will recommend any possible discipline against Manlove, is scheduled for Feb. 2 through 11. As part of that schedule, the “discovery” process was to be completed by Oct. 22.

But Manlove said she needs to take depositions from dozens of people, including some of the judges, and could not realistically meet the Oct. 22 deadline.

The motion also noted that the BPR only recently ruled on Manlove’s request to take depositions from all of Laramie County’s judges, so she has been limited in her ability to conduct interviews.

But W.W. Reeves, the special bar counsel in the state, said in his response to the request that Manlove should have been preparing a defense since the letter from the judges was distributed in December 2020.

Reeves also said that in the request for more time, Melchior did not specify what Manlove hoped to gain by interviewing a large number of witnesses.

“A critical failure of the motion … is that it gives no suggestion of what particular subjects for discovery, and which witnesses, are the most critical,” the response said. “Manlove just claims she needs it all, leaving no practical way to assess whether something less than 50 depositions, or about that many, would suffice.”

Reeves concluded the case needs to continue as scheduled.

“Manlove’s professional service for her client was prejudicial to the administration of justice, and the interest of justice can best be served by holding to the scheduling order,” he wrote. “Anything less will bring chaos and endless litigation of discovery motions.”

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New Charge Filed Against Beleaguered Laramie County DA Leigh Anne Manlove

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Another formal charge against Laramie County’s district attorney has been filed with the group that oversees the behavior of Wyoming’s attorneys, this one accusing her of improperly blaming police for errors that led to the release of two men accused of violent crimes.

The latest charge filed with the Board of Professional Responsibility on Oct. 18 alleged that Leigh Anne Manlove’s actions led to the release of two men, including one accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

“These are a continued demonstration of her lack of competence, her lack of candor and indefensible decision-making on her part that is plainly prejudicial to the administration of justice in Laramie County,” said the charge, filed by W. W. Reeves, special counsel for the State Bar. “She is a persistent and ongoing threat to public safety in Cheyenne.”

Manlove, elected to office in November 2018, is already facing a formal charge before the Board of Professional Responsibility on allegations she has failed to “competently perform the duties of her office” by exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of hundreds of cases in Laramie County. In that charge, filed in June, Manlove was also accused of incorrectly blaming her predecessor in the office for delays in court proceedings and failing to follow through on the prosecution of two men accused of dangerous crimes.

The most recent complaint accuses Manlove of lying about evidence in two cases that ended with the two men being released.

The complaint stems from Manlove’s handling of one case involving a man accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl and another involving a convicted violent felon.

In the sexual abuse case, the Cheyenne Police Department recommended the prosecution of the man, but Manlove declined to prosecute the case.

The complaint said police collected DNA evidence, but Manlove made her decision not to prosecute without looking at the lab results, which were stored on a website designed to be accessed by law enforcement officers such as prosecutors.

Manlove blamed the police for failing to deliver the results of the DNA analysis even though they had posted the results on the website for access by her office.

“Manlove knew that excuse was baseless,” the charge said. “The results were positive and provided conclusive support for the victim’s statement.”

In the other case, about one year earlier, a man convicted of four prior felonies was charged with first-degree sexual assault, strangulation of a household member, domestic battery and other crimes. The man’s defense attorney asked to see some of the evidence against his client so he could ask that it be excluded from his trial.

Manlove failed to submit the evidence and the case against the man was dismissed.

The evidence included reports of DNA analysis from the Wyoming State Crime Lab, which the complaint said was posted on the website.

But Manlove blamed the Cheyenne Police Department for failing to send her office the DNA test results.

“Manlove knew from an experience one month earlier that the lab reports were available on her computer via the (website) … “ the complaint said.

The charge alleged that the problems stem largely from Manlove’s decision to fire all but one of the office’s prosecutors on her first day in office, resulting in a loss of institutional knowledge.

“These conditions resulted in inadequately trained and overworked employees in a hostile work environment, delayed prosecutions, late court filings, missed court appearances, failures to comply with court orders, and late delivery of evidence to defense counsel, all covered over with unfounded excuses,” it said.

The charge asked for a formal hearing before the Board of Responsibility that would result in a recommendation for discipline to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

A phone call to Manlove and an email to her attorney, Stephen Melchior, were not immediately returned.

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Attorney: Wyoming Supreme Court Can Study Complaints Against Manlove

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s Supreme Court is responsible for supervising the conduct of Laramie County’s district attorney, even if allegations of misconduct involve personnel issues, according to an attorney for the state’s Board of Professional Responsibility.

Tom Toner, in the latest court filing in the case of Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove, asked that the Supreme Court reject a request by the state attorney general’s office to limit the allegations it considers when deliberating a complaint filed against Manlove.

“It is disappointing that rather than encouraging the (Board of Professional Responsibility) and (the Supreme Court) to carry out their duties to investigate and resolve the concerns raised by … district and circuit court judges, the attorney general seeks to obstruct the disciplinary proceedings and prevent this court and the BPR from considering some of the misconduct alleged in the formal charge,” said the document filed with the Supreme Court on Monday.

The filing stems from a charge filed against Manlove in June with the Board of Professional Responsibility, the group that investigates allegations of misconduct against attorneys. The BPR has been asked to conduct a disciplinary hearing into Manlove’s actions since taking office in January 2019.

Among the complaints included in the charge was one that Manlove left the district attorney’s office unable to function properly because she fired all of the office’s attorneys when she took over. Another complaint was that Manlove told employees not to file for overtime, a violation of federal labor laws.

In her response to the charge, Manlove said the BPR and Supreme Court have no authority over how she manages her office.

The attorney general’s office made the same argument in asking the Supreme Court for a “writ of prohibition” to keep the BPR from considering Manlove’s personnel management or the request for employees not to file for overtime. The attorney general’s office argued that such personnel issues are to be settled by the Human Resources Division of the Wyoming Department of Administration and federal labor agencies.

But Toner, in his request that the writ be denied, said just because allegations against an attorney should be investigated by a state or federal agency doesn’t mean those same allegations shouldn’t also be examined by the BPR and Supreme Court when trying to determine an attorney’s competence.

“(The Supreme Court) and the BPR have a duty and an obligation to protect the public from incompetent, unethical attorneys whether or not any federal or state agency or any other court can, does or chooses to take action against that attorney,” the filing said. “The court should not pass the buck and tell the citizens of Laramie County and the State of Wyoming that an attorney’s misconduct is someone else’s problem simply because the attorney’s conduct might be so bad it could affect the state’s coffers.”

If the personnel management allegations against Manlove are proven, it can be argued her actions have hurt the administration of justice, the filing said, which would be a violation of professional rules of conduct for attorneys.

“If it is proven that … the proper and efficient operation of the District Attorney’s office has been damaged because Ms. Manlove has terrorized and abused the attorneys and staff in her office, including depriving them of overtime compensation to which they are entitled, and … as a result, she lacks the attorneys and staff to handle the case load in her office with the consequences that hundreds of criminals now go free on the streets of Laramie County and that the criminal laws of this State are not being enforced in Laramie County, then it is an understatement to say that the administration of justice in Laramie County has been prejudiced,” the filing said. “It has been wrecked.”

The charge against Manlove is the result of three separate disciplinary investigations, one of which was launched after all of Laramie County’s judges wrote a letter citing concerns about her “ability to fulfill her professional responsibilities and her responsibilities to this community.”

In addition to the management issues, the charge alleged Manlove exaggerated budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases in circuit and district courts. She was also accused of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the case of a man accused of killing two people five days after being released from police custody on misdemeanor charges.

AG: Board Has No Authority Over How Laramie County DA Manages Staff

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The group that oversees the behavior of attorneys has no authority over how Laramie County’s district attorney handles overtime or personnel issues, according to the state’s attorney general.

The attorney general’s office, in a filing with the Wyoming Supreme Court, asked that the state’s Board of Professional Responsibility be prevented from considering allegations that Leigh Anne Manlove told her employees not to report their overtime in violation of federal labor laws.

“By considering alleged violations of federal law, the board is exceeding its jurisdiction which, in attorney disciplinary matters, is limited to adjudicating alleged violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, not alleged violations of federal law,” said the document filed with the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The motion to limit what the BPR can consider also asked that the board not look at personnel grievances and issues contained in the charge against Manlove filed by the special counsel for the Wyoming State Bar.

“Jurisdiction over personnel type grievances/matters rests with the (state) Department of (Administration and Information),” the filing said. “The (BPR) does not have independent jurisdiction to consider and make findings about the validity of personnel type grievances/matters in the first instance.”

The filing is the latest in the charge against Manlove, who was elected Laramie County’s district attorney in November 2018. In June, Weston Reeves, the special counsel for the bar, filed a charge against her with the state Board of Public Responsibility, accusing of violating the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct and failing to operate the district attorney’s office in a competent manner.

Reeves asked for a formal disciplinary hearing by the BPR. Any discipline recommended by the BPR will be reviewed by Supreme Court justices.

Reeves’ charge, filed with the BPR, said on her first day in office, Manlove fired almost all of the office’s attorneys and staff and that her actions later led to the departure of more staff members, leaving the office unable to function properly. Manlove, in her response to the charge, said the BPR has no authority over how she runs her office.

The attorney general’s office agreed.“(Rules of Professional Conduct) governs an attorney’s duty to provide competent representation to a client, however, the allegations about (federal labor law) violations and personnel grievances/matters are entirely unrelated to Manlove’s duty to a client,” the filing said. “As a result, the board has no jurisdiction to consider the (federal labor law) and personnel type allegations because they fall outside the duty of competency …”Any disciplinary hearing should not include references to the allegations, the attorney general’s office said, because any outcome could affect the state but the state would not have an opportunity to argue its side.“

Justice cannot stand for an end-run around the appropriate processes due to the state by simply allow the (BPR) to make findings that will directly affect the state’s interest and create potential liability,” the filing said.

The charge filed against Manlove stems from three separate disciplinary investigations. In addition to the personnel issues, it accuses Manlove of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the case of a man accused of killing two people after his release from jail and exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases.

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Laramie County District Attorney Says Allegations Of Incompetence Unfounded

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Management of the Laramie County District Attorney’s office is the job of District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove and is not subject to review by the board that oversees the activities of Wyoming’s attorneys, she said this week.

In addition, some of the allegations raised by a formal complaint filed with the board were already addressed by the Wyoming Supreme Court when it refused in January to suspend Manlove’s license as requested by a special bar counsel, according to her response to the complaint.

Manlove, in her response to the formal complaint filed against her with the state Board of Professional Responsibility, asked that the complaint filed by Special Bar Counsel W.W. Reeves in June be dismissed, in part because the BPR has no authority over how she runs her office.

“Using the Wyoming system for lawyer discipline to prosecute the elected Laramie County District Attorney based on complaints from the bench about what are essentially office management issues involving the inner workings of the district attorney’s office which are within the district attorney’s managerial discretion violates the principle of separation of powers set forth in (Wyoming’s Constitution),” she said in her 41-page response.

Reeves, in his report, recommended that a disciplinary hearing be held for Manlove to address a list of alleged violations of rules governing the actions of attorneys that showed she could not competently perform the duties of her office.

The report accused Manlove of a number of items, including exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases in circuit and district courts in Laramie County. It also referenced a letter written by the county’s circuit and district court judges in which they expressed concern that “Manlove’s personnel management and caseload management cause prejudice to the administration of justice in Laramie County.”

But Manlove, in the response filed Tuesday with the Wyoming Bar Association, said she was managing her office in a manner to avoid overloading her staff with cases in accordance with American Bar Association standards.

“The charging decisions/requests for dismissal (Manlove) has made in the face of limited resources find support in the ABA standards …” her response said. “Neither the judges’ complaint letter nor the formal charge contain facts sufficient to second-guess (Manlove’s) exercise of her considerable prosecutorial discretion.”

Manlove said her office, along with other state agencies, saw its budget reduced significantly in September 2020, while caseloads continued to rise.

The number of misdemeanors handled by the office in 2020 increased by 1,198% since 1995, Manlove said, while the number of felony cases has increased by 131% and there has been no increase in the office’s staff.

Manlove cited the budget constraints in a letter in September 2020 sent to Laramie County officials explaining that her office would be reducing the services it provided. The contents of the letter were then included as part of motions to dismiss cases in court.

In her response, Manlove reiterated that as district attorney, she has discretion over which cases to pursue and which to dismiss.

The formal complaint combined elements of three separate complaints against Manlove, one based in part on the letter from the judges and two based on complaints stemming from the release of two men accused of dangerous crimes.

Manlove said the part of the complaint stemming from the judges’ letter echoed allegations raised in December, when Bar Counsel Mark Gifford asked the Supreme Court to suspend Manlove’s license to practice law because of what he called “two years of tumultuous conduct by (Manlove) that demonstrates the threat posed by (Manlove) (to) the effective administration of justice …”

But the Supreme Court, without comment, denied the request.

“This court … concludes the petition for immediate suspension should be denied,” said the court’s Jan. 26 order.

The complaint also accused Manlove’s office of failing to submit papers to circuit court in time to bring formal theft charges against Andrew Weaver, who was released from jail as a result. Five days later, he was accused of killing two people in a Cheyenne shooting.

But Manlove noted the paperwork’s delivery was delayed in part because circuit court was operating on a limited schedule during the week in question. She also added that even if Weaver had been formally charged, he would have been eligible for bond and could have been released in any case.

In the two cases where Manlove was accused of making deals that resulted in the release of men accused of dangerous crimes, she said the case of one of the men is ongoing and he has another court appearance scheduled for August, while the second man actually remains in jail.

Manlove concluded that the charge and its allegations “fail on their face to reasonably reflect proof by clear and convincing evidence” that she violated any rules of conduct for lawyers.

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Embattled Laramie County DA Leigh Anne Manlove Confident Of Exoneration In Bar Proceeding

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove is confident she will be cleared of allegations of misconduct raised by a charge filed against her with the group that oversees the behavior of attorneys, she said.

Manlove, in a news release Thursday, said she will file a formal response to the charge filed last week with the state Board of Professional Responsibility accusing her of violating the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys.

“This process will unfold as it must, according to the Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, and I am confident I will be exonerated,” she said.

She added she will continue to do the job she was elected to in the November 2018 general election.

“Politics is a contact sport, and I knew that coming into office, but my number one priority is fulfilling my obligation as a public servant,” she said. “I have a job to do, and I will not lose sight of that.”

The charge filed by W.W. Reeves, a special counsel for the Wyoming Bar Association, recommended that Manlove be the subject of a disciplinary hearing for a series of alleged violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Most of the violations, the charge said, stem from Manlove’s “broad-ranging failure to competently perform the duties of her office.” 

The alleged violations include exaggerating budget pressures on her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases in circuit and district courts in Laramie County and creating an “unhealthy workplace” in the district attorney’s office that left the office short-staffed and unable to complete its tasks.

The charge also looked at the release of two men accused of dangerous crimes.

Manlove said her formal response will give the public a chance to hear her side of the dispute.

“Now that this matter is public and I am permitted to speak about it, I welcome the opportunity to ensure that the people of Laramie County who elected me get to hear all of the facts,” her release said. “I will be filing a formal response so that the public has the benefit of hearing both sides of the story.”

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