Former Daggett County attorney Wayne Searle, who resigned last fall after a drunken-driving conviction, will be paid $30,000 for attempts to keep him from office.
The settlement of Searle's federal lawsuit marks the second time in three years the county has agreed to pay thousands of dollars to an elected official over apparent civil rights violations.The latest settlement came after Searle sued Daggett officials, saying they had attempted to keep him from running for county attorney.
Daggett, in the northeast corner of the state, is Utah's least-populous county, with just 700 residents.
Searle was defeated for re-election in the latest general election, the same day he tendered his resignation after being convicted and sentenced to four days in jail for driving under the influence of alcohol.
He successfully argued before the Utah Supreme Court in 1988 that he should not be subject to the "yes-no" retention vote generally required of candidates in counties where few people are qualified for a specific office.
Searle's name was placed on the ballot and the word "no" blocked out. He won the election with 115 "yes" votes.
He was the only attorney residing in the county and as such the only person qualified for that constitutionally required office. He also maintained a practice in Salt Lake.
Searle's lawsuit was filed after he had declared himself a write-in candidate again last August.
In the interim, however, the Legislature had changed the law to once again require a retention-type election.
The county agreed to the settlement because of the efforts to prevent him from running.
In an earlier settlement, Daggett County paid $60,000 to former county assessor Marie Beckstead following allegations that she misused public funds.
The agreement, approved in February 1988, included $25,000 in attorney's fees and Beckstead's salary for nine months that she didn't work.
Public release of the secret settlement came after U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene ruled it was in the public's interest to release the information.
Beckstead had sued the county for $1 million after she was charged with a felony in 1987. The lawsuit was dropped and the charges dismissed after the settlement was reached.