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Deseret News
FILE - Attorney Scott Williams, left, argues that charges against his client, John Swallow, right, should be dismissed during a hearing on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on whether state prosecutors read confidential emails in the criminal case against former Attorney General John Swallow.

The court issued a one-sentence order Tuesday denying his petition appealing a 3rd District judge's decision on the issue.

Third District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills ruled in August that prosecutors' accessing about 12,000 electronic images containing communications between Swallow and his former defense attorney did not violate his constitutional rights. She denied Swallow's motion to dismiss the charges, finding that prosecutors did not purposefully get into or read the emails.

Swallow's lawyers asked the Utah Court of Appeals to reverse the decision and dismiss the charges against him. They also asked that the petition be moved to the state Supreme Court, contending prosecutors intruding into a defendant's attorney-client relationship is a new legal issue in Utah.

State attorneys argued that prosecutors and investigators didn't read the emails and that allowing an appeal now would "short-circuit" the trial process and prolong the already more than 2-year-old case. They say the case should go to trial before any appeals are considered.

Swallow is charged with 11 felonies and two misdemeanors, including racketeering, bribery, evidence tampering, misuse of public money and falsifying government records. He has pleaded not guilty.

A trial is scheduled to start next February.