SALT LAKE CITY — State attorneys asked a 3rd District judge Friday to dismiss former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's claim for more than $1 million in attorneys' fees in the abandoned criminal case against him.
The Utah Attorney General's Office argues in a new court filing that Shurtleff isn't entitled to protection under state law because he was not an officer or employee of the state when the felony charges were dropped last summer.
In addition, Shurtleff can't claim attorneys' fees because Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills dismissed the case against him based on the prosecution's motion instead of Shurtleff’s motion.
"Accordingly, the statute does not apply to this case and expressly precludes recovery of attorney fees," assistant Utah attorney general David Wolfe wrote.
Shurtleff sued the state for $1.1 million in fees and damages last month, claiming current Attorney General Sean Reyes thwarted his attempt to recoup the costs to defend himself.
Reyes pressured Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who was appointed a special assistant attorney general to prosecute Shurtleff, to seek a dismissal of the case to avoid paying any of Shurtleff's costs, according to the lawsuit.
Issued after Shurtleff filed two dismissal motions, the directive violated a cooperation agreement between Rawlings and Shurtleff, and "breached an ethical wall" Reyes had "allegedly" erected to remove himself from the case, the lawsuit says.
Wolf argues that the agreement was never executed or signed.
"The contemplated agreement remained just that — contemplated," he wrote. "Shurtleff can point to no acceptance, mutual assent or a meeting of the minds respecting the contemplated cooperation agreement."
Rawlings dropped felony public corruption charges against Shurtleff last summer, citing the federal government's unwillingness to provide what he believed was crucial evidence, among other reasons.
After considering both Shurtleff's and Rawlings' motions to dismiss, Hruby-Mills chose Rawlings' motion, precluding the state from having to pay Shurtleff's attorneys' fees.
The attorney general's office last month denied any ethics breach and accused Shurtleff of doing an "end around" the ruling against him collecting the fees.