Lawmakers will be asked to sign off on $1.5 million legal settlement with former Attorney General John Swallow

John Swallow 02

The long legal saga of former Attorney General John Swallow may be finally coming to an end as lawmakers will be asked to approve a settlement to pay Swallow’s legal fees during the special legislative session later this month.

As first reported by on Friday, lawmakers will be asked to approve a $1.5 million settlement between Swallow and the state to pay his legal fees during the special legislative session on September 16. 

The Utah Attorney General’s office issued a statement regarding the settlement on Friday.

“After a jury acquitted John Swallow, he sued the state for his attorney fees as Utah law allows. The parties have agreed to settle his claim for $1.5 million in exchange for dismissal of all claims with predjudice, which ends this case. Mr. Swallow’s attorney fees will be taken from this amount,” said the email statement. 

Swallow had sued the state under a provision in state law that requires the state to pay a public official’s legal fees if they are exonerated of charges stemming from activities that occurred while they were in office. Swallow, and his predecessor Mark Shurtleff, were arrested in 2014 on bribery and public corruption charges. The state ultimately dropped the case against Shurtleff. Swallow was eventually acquitted of nine criminal counts.

The statute cited by Swallow has since been changed.

Swallow sued the state in 2018 asking for $1.6 million in legal fees after he hired lawyers to defend himself starting in 2012. Swallow was acquitted in March of 2017.

The state sought to throw out Swallow’s lawsuit, claiming he was not in office at the time he was acquitted, meaning the state should not be on the hook for his legal fees. A judge denied Utah’s request last year.

Swallow lost a bid to have the Federal Election Commission pay nearly $100,000 in legal fees after an election fraud complaint against him was dismissed.

The Swallow settlement is one of several items on the special session call issued by Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday evening, including a revamp of Utah’s medical cannabis law and a change to Utah’s 2020 primary election date.

The Utah Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. This story will be updated when they do.