Two former Salt Lake County attorney's office investigators - claiming they were wrongly convicted of grand jury indictments in March 1987 - had their day in court Monday.
Don Harman, former chief of the attorney's office investigations division, and former investigator Ralph Tolman appeared with their lawyers in the Utah Court of Appeals to ask the court to overturn their convictions.Harman was found guilty of attempted tampering with evidence, a felony which was reduced by 3rd District Judge Raymond Uno to a misdemeanor. Tolman was found guilty of tampering with a witness, a felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
The men were found guilty of conspiring to falsify an investigation report on the May 1, 1983, fire at the Fashion Place Professional Plaza in Murray. The plaza contained some Salt Lake County offices.
The indictments, which were handed up by a county grand jury, charged Harman with ordering Tolman to destroy the report because the county could have been liable in the $1 million fire.
Ed Brass, Harman's attorney, told a three-member panel of justices Monday that his client is innocent of any crime; that prosecutors failed to show that a crime was even committed; and that Uno erred in admitting hearsay testimony.
"We don't know to this day what the offense or conspiracy was," Brass told a three-member panel, which consisted of justices Richard Davidson, Pamela Greenwood and Regnal Garff.
Loni DeLand, Tolman's attorney, told the appeals court that Tolman's actions during the investigation of the fire constituted a violation of office policy but not law.
But Dan Larsen, assistant attorney general, said Monday that there was a crime and the evidence was sufficient. "Mr. Harman ordered Mr. Tolman to get rid of the report . . . the crime was that (they) conspired together to hide the evidence."
DeLand also argued that Tolman was not properly informed of his rights when subpoenaed before the grand jury.
The defense attorney also said Tolman was not trying to hide or destroy anything. "If he was trying to hide anything, why did he talk to (KTVX reporter John) Harrington, a reporter with questionable reporting skill?" said DeLand.
DeLand is also claiming that the jury relied on prayer in reaching its verdict. Prayer, however, was not among the instructions given to the jury by the judge, and, therefore, was "outside influence."
The appeals court, which is expected to rule within 90 days, can acquit Harman and Tolman, order a new trial because of trial court error, or affirm the trial court's decisions.