ST. GEORGE – Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow is asking the court to throw out the public-corruption case against him. In a motion filed Monday through his attorney, Swallow accuses investigators of violating his rights by accessing and using thousands of privileged attorney-client emails.
The emails sent between Swallow and Rodney Snow, his attorney at the time, took place between 2012 and 2013. The emails were among the terabytes of information seized by investigators in June 2014 when they confiscated multiple computers from Swallow’s home.
Scott Williams, Swallow’s current attorney, argues in the motion that the emails, which are considered constitutionally protected, were added to the prosecution’s list of evidence to be used however it saw fit.
“The attorney-client privilege is sacrosanct,” Williams told news media following an appearance in 3rd District Court Tuesday.
Williams asked the court to throw out the case on the basis that privilege had been breached by prosecutors.
“The scope of the breach in this case is frankly staggering,” Williams said.
The emails contained legal advice given to Swallow by his attorney, as well as potential defense strategies in relation to pending corruption investigations Swallow was the focus of at the time.
Swallow let the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office know about the privileged emails the day his computers were taken, Williams wrote in the motion, yet prosecutors reportedly never responded.
Swallow and Williams weren’t aware that emails had been accessed and added into evidence until recently, when the District Attorney’s Office provided a cache of evidence for discovery purposes. The privileged emails were found among that evidence.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told Fox 13 News that none of his people had read the emails, and added steps were being taken to keep it that way.
According to KSL.com, Gill also questioned why the prosecution would make the emails available to the defense if it planned on using the emails against Swallow as the motion claims.
Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills scheduled a hearing to address the motion for July 13. If the court doesn’t throw out the case, Swallow has asked for a preliminary hearing – one he originally waived – in order for the court to determine if there is enough evidence against him to go forward to trial.
Swallow faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges related to accusations of public corruption from before and during his time as the Attorney General.
If convicted of the public corruption charges filed against him, Swallow could face up to 30 years in prison.
The case brought against Swallow is the culmination of a two-year joint investigation between the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and Davis County Attorney’s Office, with the aid of the FBI and other agencies. It ultimately resulted in the arrest of Swallow and his predecessor, three-term Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
It is alleged that both men engaged in various acts of corruption while in office. Swallow and Shurtleff maintain they are innocent of the charges.
Shurtleff pleaded not guilty to various felony and misdemeanor corruption charges in court June 2015. He also faces the possibility of 30 years in prison if convicted.
The charges Swallow faces originally stem from allegations of corruption made against him by Jeremy Johnson in early 2013.
Johnson accused Swallow of using his connections to help orchestrate an alleged bribe of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, in order to eliminate actions against Johnson by the Federal Trade Commission, among other allegations.
Swallow resigned as Utah Attorney General in December 2013 amid the circling corruption accusations and the resultant investigations.
In the months following his resignation, the Utah House released the findings of its own investigation into Swallow’s conduct, which claims he “hung a veritable ‘for sale’ sign on the office door that invited moneyed interests to seek special treatment and favors.”
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Nothing like taking a solid case and then doing something stupid to poke holes in it and potentially get a case thrown out. We will see how this plays out.