SALT LAKE CITY — Sim Gill says the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office is a mismanaged mess that has lost the public's confidence, and he wants to restore that.
Gill, who is chief prosecutor for Salt Lake City, announced Thursday that he will be a Democratic candidate for district attorney. He ran against Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller in 2006 in a tension-filled race.
"I believe I can bring a very positive change and honor back to that office," Gill said. "Before you can have justice, you must have integrity."
Gill has harsh words for some of Miller's actions, which Gill said has produced three years of scandalous headlines, a "brain drain" of talented lawyers and lots of wasted tax money.
"That office is broken, and it needs to be fixed," he said.
Gill, 49, said he wants to get back to the basics of what the district attorney's office should be doing: holding criminal offenders accountable, helping victims and using tax money carefully. One way to do that is to free prosecutors and staffers from "micro-management" so they can do their jobs well and without fear of retaliation.
"We need to focus on violent gang offenders, on the people who exploit children and the elderly," Gill said. "We need to focus on the fundamentals of protecting families and serving victims."
Gill said he wants to create an advisory panel of retired judges to help address prosecuting political corruption.
He also said he is passionate about "therapeutic justice programs," including mental health and domestic violence courts.
"Eight years ago, I started the first mental health court in Salt Lake City, with many partners, and that model holds offenders accountable, but also finds the most cost-effective way of dealing with these individuals," he said.
He also heads the Safe at Home Coalition that helped create the Family Justice Center two years ago. The center provides domestic violence victims with a wide variety of services. It is designed to get an individual immediately out of harm's way and also solve the underlying problems that got the person in an abusive relationship in the first place.
"I also want to re-establish a working, hands-on relationship with law enforcement," Gill said, adding that, if elected, he intends to assign one or two prosecutors to every law enforcement agency to assist each of them and improve overall communication.
Gill has criticized Miller for assigning three employee to handle public information, calling the expense unnecessary.
He said he wants to end "frivolous" lawsuits, such as the litigation between Miller and prosecutor Kent Morgan, who are battling in court over Morgan's previous firing and working conditions since Morgan was reinstated.
No matter who is right or wrong, this battle should end because it is a financial "fiasco" with the meter still running for the public, according to Gill.
In addition, Gill termed it "unethical" that Miller recently hired three people laid off from her husband's legal practice without advertising the jobs. There was no legal requirement to post these particular jobs, but Gill said Miller still should have permitted all qualified job-seekers to apply.
"If you close your eyes and think of the district attorney's office, what comes to your mind? Is it honor? Integrity? If the image is dishonor, lack of integrity, scandal, political agendas and personal vendettas, then there is something wrong with that office," Gill said. "I promise to restore public trust in the district attorney's office."