Wyo File reports
The Wyoming Attorney General’s office is defending a Division of Criminal Investigation officer whom the Wyoming Supreme Court found lied on the stand during a controversial hemp farming case.
The Supreme Court on May 19 censured and fined a Laramie County prosecutor for allowing DCI Special Agent Jon Briggs to make false testimony as law enforcement sought to prosecute a pair of hemp farmers as marijuana traffickers.
On May 21, the AG’s office made clear its support for Briggs. Deputy Attorney General Jenny Craig filed a motion calling for the Supreme Court to redact Briggs’ name from its report on the matter and remove any statements indicating he gave false testimony. In the motion, Craig argued DCI had conducted an internal review that cleared Briggs and that the state’s highest court lacks authority to discipline a DCI officer, at least in this case.
“The [Wyoming Board of Professional Responsibility], the Wyoming State Bar, and this Court did not have jurisdiction to determine whether Agent Briggs engaged in wrongdoing or impose discipline against him,” Craig wrote.
The Board of Professional Responsibility is a committee of five lawyers and two non-lawyers that holds hearings on attorney discipline matters, according to the Wyoming Bar Association website.
In last month’s ruling, the court found Briggs testified falsely about a critical exchange with one of the defendants that occurred when officers raided the hemp farm outside Albin. Briggs lied again in a subsequent hearing about not having read an emailed request from defense attorney Tom Jubin asking him to correct his false testimony, the high court found.
The prosecutor, then-Laramie County Senior Assistant District Attorney David Singleton, made no effort to correct the testimony in either case, the Supreme Court found.
Jubin has called for Briggs to face consequences from DCI, Wyoming’s statewide investigative agency, which is overseen by the AG’s office.
The AG’s office argues the Supreme Court also denied Briggs’ right to due process by failing to give him a chance to offer his side of the story before issuing a ruling that has impacted his career. Neither the court nor the bar committee interviewed Briggs, Craig wrote.
Craig declined to speak about the case, saying the AG’s office does not comment on pending court cases. Gov. Mark Gordon nominated Bridget Hill to be the Wyoming Attorney General and she was sworn in on March 15, 2019.
Dispute stems from troubled hemp case
The damning report against Briggs from the state’s highest court came nine months after a Laramie County judge threw out the case against Debra Palm-Egle and her son Joshua Egle, hemp farmers and industry advocates who helped legalize the crop in Wyoming.
Singleton had sought to charge the Egles, along with a contractor and his wife, Brock and Shannon Dyke, with drug trafficking conspiracy charges that could have resulted in decades in prison. Briggs investigated the case. The Dykes were on the farm in November 2019 when DCI raided the property and seized 700 pounds of hemp.