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Prosecutors have moved to block Davis County's top prosecutor from being called as a defense witness during the February public corruption trial of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings should not be allowed to testify because he was on the prosecution team that investigated and filed the original charges against Swallow and had access to privileged information, say documents filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court.
Rawlings is also still cross-deputized as a Salt Lake County district attorney the office which is prosecuting Swallow. The designation was made when Rawlings and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill were jointly investigating the case.
"Given Mr. Rawlings' involvement on the prosecution team, it will be difficult for the prosecution to properly cross-examine Rawlings without [prosecutors] becoming a witness in the case," the district attorney's office wrote.
Swallow's defense team wants to call Rawlings as a witness to testify about the facts and reasoning typically used by prosecutors when deciding whether to file a charge of "pattern of unlawful activity," or racketeering. The count is among the 13 felony and misdemeanor charges filed in the case. Swallow has pleaded not guilty and could spend up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
A trial is set to begin Feb. 7.
If the court won't bar Rawlings as a witness, prosecutors want a hearing to determine whether he is qualified to serve as an "expert."
The district attorney's office contends he is not, even though Rawlings is an experienced prosecutor. Court papers say he lacks both specialized knowledge or scientific expertise to offer adequate testimony.
The state is also "unaware of any instance where Mr. Rawlings has personally charged, prosecuted, and successfully tried a pattern of unlawful activity to a jury, ever," prosecutors wrote.
Rawlings, a Republican like Swallow, and Gill, a Democrat, charged Swallow and his immediate predecessor, former three-term Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, as co-defendants in 2014.
The cases were split later, with Gill's office taking on the Swallow prosecution and Rawlings handling the Shurtleff matter.
Shurtleff's case was dismissed last year.