After hearing three days of testimony in the Wyoming State Bar’s disciplinary case against former Teton County deputy prosecutor Becket Hinckley, a bar panel found Hinckley violated seven rules of professional conduct and will recommend to the Wyoming Supreme Court that he be disbarred.
“I take no pleasure in this,” presiding officer and former Albany County judge Jeffrey Donnell said. “I have known Mr. Hinckley since he was 6 years old. This is a real tragedy.”
In his closing statements Wednesday, bar counsel Mark Gifford said Hinckley deserves to be stripped of his law license.
Steve Kline, who’s representing Hinckley, said a three-year suspension of his client’s license to practice law is more appropriate because before his “screw ups” in the prosecution of Josh Black, there had been no formal complaints lodged against Hinckley.
Upon hearing the recommendation, Black told reporters he felt pride.
“I will never get the six years back they stole from me,” he said.
Hinckley addressed the tribunal Wednesday just before closing arguments, calling this week’s proceeding “fair ... transparent and uncomfortable.”
“I am not proud of this,” he told the panel. “I failed the people of the state of Wyoming, the people of Teton County and myself. More importantly I failed Kelli [Windsor] and her family.”
Black, 41, testified Monday as the star witness in the disciplinary hearing against Hinckley, who’s on administrative trial for a laundry list of alleged misconduct during Black’s 2015 aggravated assault trial.
Black’s conviction was reversed in 2017 by the Wyoming Supreme Court. Justices wrote in their opinion that Hinckley was guilty of prosecutorial misconduct, resulting in an unfair trial.
Black took a plea agreement later, sued Teton County and has been working with the state Bar in going after Hinckley’s law license.
The tribunal concluded Hinckley violated rules of conduct by ignoring court orders to get online records, misrepresenting his efforts to get those records, and more.
Hinckley hasn’t practiced law since his 2019 resignation from the Teton County Attorney’s Office.
The discipline will ultimately be decided by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
This is the first disciplinary hearing in Wyoming that’s been open to the public and press. It took place at the Ramkota Conference Center and Hotel in Casper.
Gifford said he hopes such hearings are as transparent going forward.
Black said he’s going to try and get exonerated.
“Our legal system is based off the foundation of fair play,” he said. “Its judgments and rulings have profound effect on not only the accused and accusers, but also everyone associated with them. The ripple effect is massive. So when prosecutors violate the law to ensure a conviction at all costs, tilting the scales of justice, we have to realize the deviation it can cause to the entire community.”