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Swallow's preliminary hearing set for June

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SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has scheduled five days in June for prosecutors to present their evidence in the criminal case against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

A public court hearing was scheduled to occur next week on Jan. 13 to set a date for Swallow's preliminary hearing. Instead, however, 3rd District Judge Paul Parker held a private meeting with prosecutors and Swallow's defense attorney in his personal chambers on Tuesday, court records indicate.

Swallow, 52, was not present for the meeting, but his attorney Stephen McCaughey waived his right to a speedy trial, according to a court docket. A five-day preliminary hearing was scheduled to begin June 8 at 2 p.m.

During that hearing, prosecutors will try to present enough evidence against Swallow to convince Parker that there is "probable cause" to believe the crimes occurred and they were likely committed by Swallow. If the judge agrees, he will order Swallow to stand trial on the charges.

The defense will have opportunities to cross-examine witnesses and can also present evidence. Defense attorneys, however, seldom present their own evidence or witnesses during preliminary hearings since the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The burden of proof during preliminary hearings is much lower than during a trial.

Swallow faces 12 felonies and two misdemeanors, including racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice, misuse of public money and falsifying government records.

Mark Shurtleff, who was Utah's attorney general before Swallow, faces nine felonies including bribery, illegally accepting gifts, improper use of employee position and obstructing justice. Both Swallow and Shurtleff have steadfastly maintained their innocence.

Shurtleff's next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12 before 3rd District Judge Russell Skanchy. A preliminary hearing date for him could be set at that time.

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