State and federal officials are asking a judge to toss a $60 million civil rights lawsuit filed earlier this year by former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who is suing everyone involved in investigating and charging him with public corruption four years ago.
It was one of Utah’s most sweeping political scandals in state history, which resulted in the dismissal of all charges against Shurtleff in 2016.
But Shurtleff argues in a civil lawsuit that even though charges were dropped, the damage still remains. His arrest, the search and seizure of his property and his prosecution caused “humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering,” he wrote in the civil suit filed in June.
Attorneys for the FBI and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill wrote in separate motions that Shurtleff’s lawsuit should be dismissed because they have immunity from being sued for doing their jobs. They also argue Shurtleff waited too long to complain about his home being searched on June 3, 2014 — the four-year legal deadline had passed just three days before Shurtleff filed suit on June 6.
Darcy Goddard, an attorney in Gill’s office, wrote in the motion to dismiss that Shurtleff’s 73-page lawsuit was so focused on “personal outrage” that the plaintiffs did not realize the legal deadlines had passed and “the remaining claims and causes of action fall so squarely within the scope of D.A. Gill’s prosecutorial functions that they are non-cognizable based on the doctrines of absolute or qualified immunity.”
The criminal case against the three-time attorney general, who was charged in 2014 with bribery, corruption and other charges stemming from his time in office, was dropped in July 2016. Gill’s office initially prosecuted the case, but it was handed off to Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who opted to dismiss it.
Shurtleff said since then he’s lost job opportunities because employers Google him and see the allegations. He and his family — his wife, son and daughter are named plaintiffs in the case — also face medical bills for the therapy they sought to process the police raid on their home.
Shurtleff and his successor, John Swallow, were arrested in July 2014 amid an investigation into allegations that the two accepted bribes and favors. Together, they were charged initially with a combined 23 counts. Both maintained their innocence and walked away without a conviction.
Swallow was acquitted of charges after a jury trial in 2017.
He, too, has a pending case to get Utah to cover the $1.6 million in fees amassed by the team of lawyers that defended him for five years. State officials have also asked for that lawsuit to be dismissed.