CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Supreme Court on Wednesday censured Cheyenne lawyer and former Laramie County assistant district attorney David E. Singleton for failing to correct false testimony given by a law enforcement officer in a 2020 marijuana case.
The case, which charged four people with multiple felonies related to allegedly growing marijuana on their hemp farm, was later dismissed.
Cheyenne lawyer Thomas B. Jubin, who represented mother-and-son hemp advocates Deborah Palm-Egle and Joshua Egle, submitted a complaint against Singleton to the Wyoming State Bar in August 2020. The State Bar then conducted an investigation into the incident and found Singleton committed two violations of his obligation to candor to the court.
“In considering the stipulated resolution, the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Wyoming State Bar was satisfied that Singleton acted with knowledge, but not with intent to deceive the court in failing to correct the law enforcement officer’s false testimony,” according to a news release. “Therefore, the BPR approved the parties’ stipulated resolution and recommended that the Wyoming Supreme Court issue a public censure of Singleton.”
Singleton was ordered by the court to pay an administrative fee of $750, as well as $50 to the State Bar, on or before July 15.
According to recommendation for public censure documents filed April 29, Singleton could have been suspended based on his conduct, were it not for some mitigating factors, including that he “acted with knowledge, but not intent to deceive the court,” that he had no prior disciplinary record and was cooperative with the bar during censure proceedings.
Singleton has been licensed to practice law in Wyoming since 2014.
In January 2019, he was hired by newly elected Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove and worked as an assistant district attorney.
A District Attorney’s office employee who answered the phone Wednesday would not confirm that Singleton no longer worked at the office and declined to answer any questions, referring a reporter to Manlove, who could not be reached for comment.
Singleton still practices law in Cheyenne, according to the censure recommendation. Jeremy D. Michaels, who represented Singleton at an April 6 hearing, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
In November 2019, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agents seized plant material from a farm owned by the Egles to determine whether THC was present, according to the censure recommendation.
During an interview, Brock Dykes, a construction contractor working at the farm at the time of the raid, showed DCI Special Agents Jon Briggs and Jason Moon the test results from two samples of the farm’s crop done by an independent laboratory. The test results showed both samples contained less than 0.3-percent THC, which allows for use in CBD products.
Anything higher than 0.3 percent classifies a plant as marijuana, per Wyoming statute.
On Feb. 20, 2020, Briggs emailed Singleton test results that showed all but one sample tested above 0.3 percent.
On behalf of the state, Singleton charged the Egles, Dykes and Dykes’ wife, Shannon, with conspiracy to manufacture, deliver or possess marijuana; possession of marijuana with intent to deliver; and possession of marijuana, which are all felonies; and cultivation of marijuana, a misdemeanor.
During a July 9 preliminary hearing in Laramie County Circuit Court, Briggs testified that he’d been shown results from testing of the plants that showed they may have contained more than 0.3-percent THC, which would have categorized the plants as marijuana.
Briggs was the state’s only witness at the hearing.
In fact, the test results shown to Briggs at the time of the raid showed the samples contained less than 0.3% THC, according to the censure recommendation.
The July 9 hearing was not finished on that day, and it was scheduled to resume on Aug. 6.
On July 23 and 24, Jubin contacted Singleton and Briggs to point out the inaccuracy in Briggs’ testimony and suggest they correct it for the court. In a July 24 text message, Briggs said to Singleton: “Dude, Jubin is going hard in the paint. He is sending me emails, trying to tell me my testimony is wrong.”
Singleton responded: “He sent me an email yesterday and said the same thing. Not trying to be antagonistic, just trying to ‘educate’ me. That about sum it up?”
Briggs said: “Oh ya. ‘I’m giving you the chance to correct your testimony.’ Is there any recourse against him for such activity. He is actually insane.”
Three days later, Briggs forwarded Jubin’s email to Singleton, according to the censure recommendation.
When the hearing resumed on Aug. 6, Briggs testified that he had not read Jubin’s email in which he pointed out the inaccuracies in Briggs’ prior testimony.
Singleton knew Briggs had read the email and did not correct Briggs.
Singleton admitted he violated a professional conduct rule when he failed to correct Briggs on the record, according to the censure recommendation. He also admitted his attempt to redirect his questioning of Briggs had the effect of “further muddying” his testimony, rather than clarifying it.
When the preliminary hearing ended, Laramie County Circuit Court Judge Antionette Williams ruled “there was not sufficient evidence of intent on the part of the defendants to possess, distribute or conspire regarding marijuana,” the censure recommendation says, and decided not to bind the felony charges over to Laramie County District Court.
Singleton then dismissed the rest of the charges.