By Jesse Harris

I’m starting to wonder what it is that Sim Gill does all day. As the district attorney for Salt Lake County, his job is to investigate crimes and, if sufficient evidence is found, prosecute perpetrators of those crimes. In the last few years it seems like he’s not very successful when it’s a high-profile case. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

The first is the now completely botched investigation and prosecution of former Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow. The report compiled by the legislature was extremely damning, all but saying “dude, these guys totally did the thing.” The FBI came in to investigate, and Gill’s office was there in the thick of it.

And then everything fell apart. The feds didn’t turn over evidence in a timely matter. Sources familiar with the investigation started to note that top prosecutors were moved to other cases. Eventually both managed to escape conviction and Mark even had the stones to sue for his legal fees (which he lost). A case that looked like a certain slam dunk looked more like it was being handled by The Law Offices of Larry, Curly, and Moe.

Then there’s the case of Gary Ott. The Salt Lake Tribune first reported seriously questions about the mental health of Ott way back in April 2016. In October that same year, Gill’s office confirmed that it was investigating the matter to see if there was the potential that then Deputy Recorder Julie Dole and his personal assistant/fiance or girlfriend or whatever Karmen Sanone were manipulating Ott in order to keep their jobs. Some of the information dug up so far indicates that it may have gone back to his election in 2014.

Every time a new story broke about Ott, Gill’s office would always say “we’re continuing to investigate”. Meanwhile, Ott’s family sued for and obtained guardianship, he resigned from office, a new recorder was elected (who fired both Dole and Sanone), and the Salt Lake County Republican Party formally censured Dole. Meanwhile, we don’t even know if Gill’s office is even continuing the glacial pace of investigation or sitting around hoping that with everyone out of public office they can just wait for it to go away. If there’s anything to be found, it should have been found by now and acted on. If there’s nothing to find, say so and end it.

This brings me to the altercation with Alex Wubbels. As I’ve previously mentioned, it took a month for the city to act after the incident and that was only after an international firestorm once the full body cam footage was released. Once again, Gill’s office is right there “taking the matter seriously”, but history of high-profile incidents makes me wonder, are they? Are they really? Will this be forgotten, swept under the rug, or completely botched like so many other high-profile cases?

Everything I’ve heard about Sim is that he’s a really nice guy. I haven’t seen anything to contradict that. At the end of the day, though, being nice isn’t a job requirement for a DA. It’s about getting the job done, especially in cases where the public trust is at stake (as it is in all three of these cases). A failure to assure citizens that the legal process will be both swift and fair erodes confidence. And right now it looks like Gill is about to fall through a very thing sheet of ice.

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  • brettlg

    I’m not totally against what you are saying, but when the US Supreme Court decided to overturn VA Gov. McDonnell’s conviction in 2016, in the middle of Swallow-Shurtleff cases, it made public corruption cases almost impossible to prosecute. I don’t know for sure, but I bet both the DOJ and the DA saw the Swallow-Shurtleff as lost causes after that.