SALT LAKE CITY – Former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is asking the court to dismiss his public corruption case.
In a lengthy-motion filed Friday, Shurtleff’s attorneys argue that his right to a speedy trial has been violated. The motion further states the violation is due to investigators withholding evidence, thus causing the delay.
In an over 80-page motion, attorneys ask Third District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the charges cannot be refiled at a later date. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who is prosecuting the case, has asked the court to schedule an evidentiary hearing on the matter.
“Given the substantial delays in this case and the United States’ refusal to disclose (evidence), Mr. Shurtleff has been informed and firmly believes he will not receive the necessary information,” Shurtleff’s attorney wrote in the motion. “This, in turn, has unfairly prejudiced and will unfairly prejudice Mr. Shurtleff’s ability to present dispositive motions or receive a fair trial.”
Shurtleff, 58, is facing five felony-level charges of accepting prohibited gifts, obstruction of justice, and bribery to dismiss a criminal proceeding, as well as two misdemeanor charges for obstructing justice and official misconduct. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
Shurtleff entered a “not guilty” plea in June 2015 and is scheduled to go to trial in October.
The charges stem from an investigation conducted by state and federal officials that culminated in Shutleff’s arrest in July 2014. Arrested on similar charges was John Swallow, Shurtleff’s successor as attorney general until his resignation in December 2013 during the ongoing corruption investigation.
The evidence the motion speaks of relates to materials complied by the federal agencies during their own corruption investigation into Shurtleff in 2013. While that investigation resulted in no charges being filed against Shurtleff, the U.S. Justice Department hasn’t been vary forthcoming with the evidence its agents gathered.
Both the Davis County Attorney’s office and Shurtleff’s attorneys want that evidence turned over. Shurtleff in particular wants it because, according to the motion, he believes it contains materials, such as interviews and documentation, that could prove his innocence.
The Justice Department has released some of its evidence, but not all of it, according to the motion. Some of that information includes terabytes of data used in the prosecution of St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson.
The state’s obligation to supply all of the evidence to the defense, which is also called its Brady/Giglio obligation, is a factor in the delays of Shurtleff’s case, according to the motion, and is another reason Shurtleff is asking for his case to be dismissed.
“The State may argue that it recently acquired terabytes of data produced by the United States derived from a federal prosecution of Mr. Johnson, and that the State continues to produce material. Yet, Brady imposes an obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence ‘at such time as to allow the defense to use the favorable material effectively in the preparation and presentation of its case,’” the motion states. “Here, the State failed to obtain or produce terabytes of data in sufficient time for Mr. Shurtleff to conduct a review prior to trial, especially given the complicated nature of the State’s allegations.”
Shurtleff’s attorneys go on to argue in the motion that the delay of a speedy trial has had a “profound effect on Mr. Shurtleff’s financial well-being.”
The motion states he has been unable to maintain employment due to the negative media attention brought on by the case, and struggles to meet monthly financial obligations.
“Mr. Shurtleff doubts he will be able to rehabilitate his name, restore his financial state of affairs, or find sufficient clients while this case remains pending – all of which only increases the anxiety and concern arising out of past and future delay,” the motion states.
A hearing concerning the motion to dismiss has yet to be scheduled by the court.
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