Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Longtime office receptionist Dorene Jennings hugs Attorney General Mark Shurtleff during her retirement party Wednesday.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is back at work, if only for a few hours each day.

Shurtleff, who is recovering from injuries he suffered in a motorcycle crash, has returned to his office to a stack of mail and postponed appearances. He recently was released from a rehabilitation hospital after undergoing several surgeries on his shattered leg and a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder.

"It takes a lot out of you," Shurtleff told the Deseret Morning News on Tuesday. "I've got three or four weeks in this wheelchair, and then I'll start walking."

One of Shurtleff's arms is still in a sling, making moving around in a wheelchair difficult. He has to shuffle along, using his foot to scoot, with one hand on the wheel to keep him from going in circles.

"It makes me appreciate those who have to spend their lives in wheelchairs," the attorney general said.

Because he can't drive, Shurtleff has staffers help him get around. On Tuesday, he attended the retirement party of longtime office receptionist Dorene Jennings, who has been described as "the voice of the Utah Attorney General's Office."

For the past 17 years, she has answered constituent phone calls at the office.

"I've listened to people yell at us, swear at us, cry with us, laugh with us," Jennings said Tuesday. "You just have to let it roll off your back and help people the best you can."

Jennings has served under attorneys general Paul Van Dam, Jan Graham and now Shurtleff. The attorney general said in his seven years in office, he has never had a complaint about how someone was treated over the phone.

"You get so many mad people and mean people, and she just has this personality," Shurtleff said. "You can't get her goat. She listens."

Shurtleff also was scheduled to make an appearance at a fund-raiser for his re-election campaign on Tuesday night.

Since he is still recovering, Shurtleff said he tries to keep up on his duties via e-mail and over the phone. He's done a lot of reading (anti-trust and consumer protection litigation) and waded his way through about 50 books downloaded onto an iPod.

"It's been five weeks since I did this stupid thing, and it's a long road back," he said.


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