JACKSON — Wyoming inmate Joshua Black is suing Teton County and former Deputy Prosecutor Becket Hinckley for $2 million.
Black specifically filed his complaint against Hinckley, Teton County, the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office, former Prosecutor Steve Weichman and current Prosecutor Erin Weisman.
“I went through two years in a county jail waiting for a fair trial I would never get,” Black stated in his complaint filed in Teton County District Court.
Black, 40, was found guilty for an October 2014 assault against his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison because past felonies made him a habitual offender under Wyoming law.
But Black maintains that he didn’t beat up his ex-girlfriend Kelli Windsor. Windsor suffered a brain bleed and broken bones during the assault.
After an appeal, the Wyoming Supreme Court found prosecutorial missteps and awarded Black a new trial in 2017, but the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office, led by Steve Weichman at the time, offered Black a plea deal.
“They gave a plea deal without talking to me,” Windsor previously told the Jackson Hole News&Guide. “I would not have agreed to that.”
Black is at the Wyoming Honor Farm with March 1 parole eligibility as a result of the plea agreement.
“Hinckley’s misuse and abuse of his sacred powers was atrocious and inexcusable,” Black wrote in the complaint. “He robbed me of my life and liberty without due process of law.”
The lawsuit makes serious claims against Hinckley and his former bosses.
“The Teton County Prosecutor’s Office superiors were present during each of my significant hearings that brought Mr. Hinckley’s unethical acts to surface in my case,” Black wrote. “Still to this day I am baffled they allowed Mr. Hinckley to continue his [rogue] acts of defiance and immoral behaviors unobstructed, without a single correction. It was like they were endorsing and applauding his acts.”
Black argued in his appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court that Hinckley acted improperly by not complying with the court’s discovery order. The Wyoming Supreme Court justices agreed with Black.
“The prosecutor’s failure to comply with the court’s discovery order is not the only instance of misconduct relevant to our decision,” the Wyoming Supreme Court justices wrote in their 2017 order.
More recently, the Wyoming State Bar has filed a “formal charge” against Hinckley for violating seven rules of prosecuting during or after Black’s aggravated assault case.
In his complaint, Black wrote, “Mr. Hinckley is the poster child of why American citizens are screaming for criminal justice reform.”
Black also said Hinckley’s “cavalier” attitude in court when he would not follow orders was disturbing.
“The accused may not deserve much but they unquestionably deserve better than that,” Black wrote. “It was a LIFE sentence. That life was mine.”
Hinckley resigned from the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office in January.
The civil case has been assigned to Third Judicial District Judge Suzannah Robinson.
Answers from defendants have not yet been filed.