Bar brings new indictments against Laramie County DA | Wyoming news
Hannah Black Wyoming Tribune Eagle via Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE – Wyoming State Bar filed a second formal indictment against District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove of Laramie in mid-October, alleging false statements and excuses about her office being unable to access the crime lab’s results brought the judiciary in the district.
The formal indictment filed on October 18 by Special Bar Counsel WW Reeves with the Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility is the bar’s second against Manlove. The first charge was brought in June. The more recent indictment alleges that Manlove’s false claims about the inability to access DNA evidence prevented justice from being carried out in two specific cases.
In the case of Rodney Law, a man charged with multiple violent crimes and four previous convictions, the bar association’s indictment says Manlove missed a deadline to provide evidence, including DNA analysis by the Wyoming State Crime Lab, “readily available” to her was through BEAST, a database that stores the results of law enforcement investigations.
The case could not proceed without this evidence and was dismissed with prejudice by a Laramie County District Court judge – meaning the same charges cannot be brought again against the law.
During a June 6, 2019 hearing in which Manlove admitted missing the evidence-gathering deadline, she said she had no control over the gathering of evidence and accused the Cheyenne police of failing to provide the results to the indictment says. She also called the detection system “awful” and said it doesn’t work, which Reeves writes, “consistent with her predilection for blaming others for their incompetence”.
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The prosecution also alleges that Manlove and her office were about a month before the hearing on Jan.
“We won’t be sending results on cases in the future. As I told several people in the prosecutor’s office, BEAST has a prosecutor’s module that anyone can log into at any time and see what has been filed on a case and what reports are available, ”the Evidence Manager wrote in response to a request from one assistant district attorney to see the results of one case, according to the indictment.
On June 18, 2019 – about five months after their term in office – Manlove and her paralegal were “password-activated” by an evidence controller at the State Crime Lab.
In a second instance, Manlove is accused of having refused to prosecute child molestation without considering laboratory results that “conclusively support the victim’s testimony” according to the formal indictment.
In a July 2 letter to Manlove received by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, CPD Detective Lt. Rob Dafoe expressed his frustration with the district attorney and asked why her office had refused to pursue the alleged suspect and the case was “one of the largest I’ve seen in 20 years of prosecution.”
The State Crime Lab’s DNA analysis reports had been in BEAST since January, according to the formal indictment and Dafoe’s letter.
The alleged victim’s mother made regular reports to prosecutors and “received blatantly false and misleading apologies for the delay, including the fact that DNA evidence from the crime lab was not available,” the indictment said. The mother later filed a complaint with the bar association.
The city of Cheyenne filed a petition on behalf of the CPD in August calling on the Wyoming Attorney General to investigate Manlove’s refusal to prosecute the case.
The October 18 Bar Association charges BEAST calls when making indictment decisions as an “established practice” for prosecutors. Special Counsel Reeves wrote that the prosecutor’s office investigator read the lab results in July, and in a sworn affidavit filed with the Bar Association, the same investigator said paralegals regularly searched the database for lab results until mid-2019.
Both cases “are persistent evidence of the prosecutor’s inadequacy, openness and unsustainable decision-making that is clearly detrimental to the Laramie County’s judicial administration,” Reeves wrote.
“She is an ongoing and ongoing threat to public safety in Cheyenne,” he continued.
Manlove argued in her formal response to the Bar Association’s first indictment last summer that she was exercising the prosecution’s discretion in her firm’s decisions not to prosecute certain cases. In the new indictment, however, the bar said that Rodney’s Act and child sexual abuse cases “are not a matter of prosecution discretion, but rather demonstrate persistent misrepresentations, a lack of competence and diligence in the administration of justice.”
Manlove’s alleged conduct, described in the indictment, violates several state professional rules for attorneys, Reeves wrote, including competency, due diligence, and making a false testimony in a disciplinary process.
Stephen Melchior, Manlove’s attorney, declined to comment on the recent indictment, adding that he plans to file a formal response soon.
A hearing was held Tuesday morning before the chairman of the Bar Association Hearing Committee – a member of the professional responsibility committee and part of the three-person committee overseeing the case – scheduled for Feb.2-11. The hearing also dealt with the amalgamation of the two formal allegations.
The outcome of the hearing was unclear on Tuesday afternoon. An order will likely not be entered for at least a week, said Brandi Robinson, a clerk on the Board of Professional Responsibility.
On her first day in office in January 2019, Manlove fired all but one and many other prosecutors. The October 18 indictment states that the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office “never recovered from this loss of institutional knowledge,” that none of the attorneys they hired at the beginning of their tenure remained, that the number of attorneys of the 32 employees she hired during her tenure, 24 have gone.
“These conditions resulted in under-trained and overworked employees in a hostile work environment, delayed prosecutions, late trials, missed court appointments, non-compliance with court orders, and late delivery of evidence to defense attorneys, all covered with unfounded apologies,” Reeves wrote.
Manlove said in a July 21 press release addressing the Bar Association’s first indictment that due to COVID-related budget cuts by the state, her office had to make difficult decisions about which cases to prosecute. She said some of the lawyers and other staff who chose to leave the prosecutor’s office were doing so because of budget cuts, vacation, staff cuts and COVID-19, or the stress of working in one Public prosecutor’s office is established.
The first formal indictment against Manlove was also filed by Reeves with the State Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility on June 11th. Reeves wrote that the Bar Association’s Examination and Oversight Committee has found a likely reason to indict Manlove of multiple professional conduct misconduct during her tenure.
The bar said one of three inquiries into Manlove’s behavior at the time was prompted by an “unprecedented” letter signed by all of Laramie County’s district and district judges. In the letter, the seven judges alleged that Manlove mishandled both the staff and the case load of their office, which had a negative impact on the office’s ability to adequately represent Laramie County’s residents.
In her July 20 response, Manlove largely dismissed the allegations made against her, including that her alleged conduct violated the rules of conduct described in the indictment.
The public prosecutor’s first indictment said that it was not budget cuts that reduced the number of cases, but Manlove’s behavior in her office, which led many lawyers and other staff to resign. In her response, Manlove noted that the number of cases in her office had “increased significantly” while the number of government-funded lawyers available remained the same and the number of staff had decreased by two.
“The prosecutor’s office literally does a lot, a lot more with less,” the response said.
In her response, Manlove denied that “there were too few employees left in her office to meet the bureau’s obligations,” saying that “all of the Laramie District Attorney’s obligations have been adequately met by its attorneys and auxiliaries, and that, if Laramie County’s citizens believe otherwise, “They may elect someone else to serve as the district attorney in the 2022 election.