Shurtleff claims AG Sean Reyes thwarted his right to attorneys' fees in criminal case

Shurtleff claims AG Sean Reyes thwarted his right to attorneys' fees in criminal case

(Steve Griffen, Pool, File)

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff claims current Attorney General Sean Reyes thwarted his attempt to recoup attorneys' fees in the abandoned criminal case against him.

Shurtleff filed a lawsuit against the state in 3rd District Court on Thursday seeking $1.1 million in fees and damages.

Reyes "leaned on" Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who was appointed a special assistant attorney general to prosecute Shurtleff, to seek a dismissal of the case last summer to avoid paying any of Shurtleff's costs, said Shurtleff's lawyer Rodney Parker.

Issued after Shurtleff filed two dismissal motions, the directive violated a cooperative agreement between Rawlings and Shurtleff, and "breached an ethical wall" Reyes had "allegedly" erected to remove himself from the case, according to the 14-page lawsuit.

Reyes intruded into the Shurtleff prosecution to circumvent his right under Utah law as a former elected official to seek reimbursement for costs after the charges were dismissed, the lawsuit says.

"The state shouldn't be able to financially ruin somebody like this who was a public official," Parker said, adding it's a "slap in the face" to Shurtleff.

The attorney general's office in a statement Thursday denied any ethics breach and accused Shurtleff of doing an "end around" a judge's ruling against him collecting the fees. It says the lawsuit "gratuitously" includes Reyes with "baseless claims in an attempt to embarrass the (the attorney general's office) for settlement leverage."

"Any allegation that the Utah attorney general or anyone else in the Utah Attorney General's Office directed, instructed or somehow forced the Davis County attorney to file his motion to dismiss in the Shurtleff case is blatantly false and will be proven so during litigation," the statement said.

Rawlings and Shurtleff had come to a cooperation agreement to facilitate the dismissal of the case against him.

Shurtleff agreed to provide information about some of the key players in the investigation of himself and his successor, John Swallow. In return, the charges would be dismissed in a way that allowed him to recover his attorney's fees, Parker said.

As that was happening, the attorney general pressed Rawlings at the last minute to file his own motion to dismiss to try to avoid having to pay the fees, Parker said.

According to the attorney general's office, Rawlings made the decision to file his separate motion to dismiss "without direction, instruction, force, threat, coercion or orders" from Reyes or his office.

Rawlings dropped felony public corruption charges against Shurtleff last summer, citing the federal government's unwillingness to provide what he believed was crucial evidence, among other reasons.

After considering both Shurtleff's and Rawlings' motions to dismiss, Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills chose Rawlings' motion, precluding the state from having to pay Shurtleff's attorneys' fees.

Parker said it's not legitimate for the attorney general's office to claim it saved taxpayers $1 million when it breached an agreement to "basically financially ruin" Shurtleff. He said the law exists to protect public officials from going bankrupt in cases where charges are dismissed.

The attorney general's office said Shurtleff's lawyer has an ethical obligation to assure the allegations are based on "credible information or belief, not merely conjecture or wishful thinking."

State prosecutors charged Shurtleff and Swallow with multiple felony corruption counts in July 2014. A jury acquitted Swallow on all charges last week.

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics

Dennis Romboy


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast