The Wyoming Supreme Court has denied an ex-prosecutor’s request to bar the public from his upcoming disciplinary hearing.
Attorneys representing former Teton County deputy prosecutor Becket Hinckley said Hinckley’s disciplinary hearing should be private.
“The right to a private reprimand cannot be squared with a hearing that is open to the public,” Stephen Kline wrote in a petition.
The Wyoming State Bar’s Mark Gifford filed an objection, leading his response with an Edward Teller quote: “Unfortunately, secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction — it is a difficult habit to kick.”
Gifford’s argument is that the hearing should be open to the public because the issue stems from a criminal case that drew “constant press coverage in Jackson.”
Their arguments came after the Jackson Hole News&Guide inquired about attending the hearing in order to cover it. The News&Guide has covered the allegations brought by the bar against Hinckley and covered the criminal case from which his misconduct allegations stem.
“Transparency brings credibility to a system that has long been perceived by members of the public as something of a lawyers’ protective society,” Gifford wrote in his response.
Ultimately, the Wyoming Supreme Court agreed and filed an order denying Kline’s petition, but justices didn’t include their reasoning.
The Wyoming State Bar brought a formal charge against Hinckley last year, alleging several counts of prosecutorial misconduct during an aggravated assault case against Josh Black, whose conviction was reversed in 2017 by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
One of the allegations against Hinckley is that he didn’t comply with the Teton County District Court’s order to get Facebook and Verizon records related to the assault case.
The hearing was rescheduled for October 26-29 in Casper at the Holiday Inn Casper East on Granite Peak Drive.
The bar counsel’s list of witnesses and exhibits is due Aug. 25.