Attorneys for jailed businessman Marc Sessions Jenson, who has made headline-grabbing allegations against Utah Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, failed to persuade a judge on Monday to issue a protective order against state prosecutors.
Third District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills declined to ban the attorney general's office from contacting Jenson, his family, his lawyers or his witnesses despite instances of alleged threats from attorney general officials.
The judge said there wasn't enough evidence to show the contact "rose to the level" of danger that would warrant court-ordered protection. But prosecutors informally agreed to honor similar conditions by telling attorney general officials to stay away from the Jensons.
In the end, both sides were calling it a win.
Last month, Jenson's attorneys asked Hruby-Mills to issue a protective order due to alleged threats and harassment from officials.
According to the defense petition, threats and other worrisome behavior began when Jenson's legal team asked Hruby-Mills to disqualify the attorney general's office from prosecuting their client over his now-defunct Mount Holly development. Jenson faces eight felony charges in that case, including communications fraud, money laundering and having a pattern of unlawful activity.
Scott Reed, head of the criminal division in the attorney general's office and the prosecutor on the Jenson case, said the no-contact agreement was superfluous as no one in the AG's office has contacted, threatened or harassed any members of Jenson's family.
"We're the good guys here," Reed said to reporters after the hearing. "And the bad guys don't need to protect people from the good guys."
But defense attorney Marcus Mumford pointed to "threatening" phone calls his partner, Bret Rawson, claims he received from Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen as proof that harassment is not beyond the attorney general's office.
"We did this so that no one else has to get the phone calls and the threats that my office received," Mumford told TheTribune. "And we got exactly the kind of protection we were looking for."
Rawson allegedly received two calls from Torgensen. In the first, the chief deputy attorney general allegedly told Rawson that he and Jenson's other attorneys needed to "be careful" in a menacing tone, according to a declaration filed with the court.
Days later, after several news reports came out about the call, Torgensen phoned again, the document states. Rawson believes Torgensen was making an audio recording of the Monday call, in which he asked Rawson to admit "his prior call was not threatening." Rawson refused.
Arguments about whether the attorney general's office should continue to prosecute the case against Jenson will be made on August 5.