Utah Bar Investigating Swallow and Could Recommend Discipline

Utah Attorney General John Swallow resigns
Utah Attorney General John Swallow resigns
Utah Attorney General John Swallow speaks during a news conference Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Swallow announced Thursday that he is stepping down amid multiple investigations of bribery and misconduct that have hounded him ever since he took office at the beginning of the year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)(Credit: AP)

There’s another investigation looking into former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

And, apparently, that investigation, by the Utah Bar, has been ongoing since early last year.

Within moments of the publication of the hefty, eight volume report on John Swallow by the House Special Investigation Committee, the Utah Bar announced that it has had an investigation into John Swallow since allegations first emerged in January of 2013.

From the Utah Bar statement:

The Utah House of Representative’s Report on John Swallow, which was recently released to the public, contains allegations that include potential attorney ethics violations, which are under the jurisdiction of Utah State Bar’s Office of Professional Conduct (OPC). The OPC has had an active investigation of John Swallow since the initial allegations of wrongdoings appeared in the media. This investigation is independent of any Bar complaints against Mr. Swallow. The OPC will review the House report, as well as the pending results of the Salt Lake and Davis Counties’ investigations.

Last week, this site asked why the Utah Bar has been slow to take action against one of its own, especially in light of the increasing volume of material produced by the Lieutenant Governor’s investigation and the Utah House Investigation.

Apparently, it was a question asked one week too soon.

To the Utah Bar’s credit, the organization–which both supports and polices its members–walks a line that requires it to protect the confidentiality of individuals at the same time as protecting the public interest in preventing unethical lawyers (NOT an oxymoron) from practicing.

In its statement, the Utah Bar noted that the OPC, composed of ten individuals, six of which are attorneys, may “where sufficient evidence of ethics violations” exists present that evidence to a screening panel of the Utah Supreme Court’s Ethics and Discipline Committee. The screening panel may then recommend action–discipline–to the Ethics and Discipline Committee, which then has the latitude to issue a public or private response.

And then the statement goes to the serious penalties: “or, if more serious discipline is warranted, can direct the OPC to initiate a civil suit in district court, where license suspension and disbarment are potential sanctions.”

For a full explanation of the Utah Bar’s process, please read a longer explanation, written by Utah Bar President Curtis E. Jensen’s and chair of the Utah Supreme Court’s Ethics & Discipline Committee  Terrie McIntosh.

Previously published at Publius Online.

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