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Mark Shurtleff sued the state Thursday for at least $1.1 million in damages and legal fees, arguing he is owed the money because Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes interfered in the dismissal of his criminal case.

Reyes ordered Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who was appointed a special assistant attorney general to prosecute Shurtleff, to seek a dismissal of the case last summer to avoid paying any of Shurtleff's costs, court papers say.

That directive — issued after Shurtleff filed two dismissal motions — breached a cooperative agreement between Rawlings and Shurtleff and violated Reyes' promise to remain "walled off" from any involvement in the prosecution, the 14-page document states.

"Reyes' response and reactions to Shurtleff's motions was an intrusion into the Shurtleff prosecution specifically calculated to circumvent Shurtleff's statutory right as a former public official to seek reimbursement and indemnification for his fees and costs," attorney Rodney Parker wrote.

It is also a violation of public policy, Parker argued, because it undermined and interfered with state law.

Attorneys for Shurtleff filed the 3rd District Court lawsuit after months of settlement negotiations with the attorney general's office broke down this week, Parker told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.

In a news release responding to the lawsuit, Reyes' office said any allegation that he or anyone from his office had "directed, instructed or somehow forced" Rawlings to seek a dismissal of the case was false.

Reyes, the release states, spoke to Rawlings only after he already had decided to scrap the case.

"Similarly, any accusations of an ethics breach based onĀ alleged directives from the [attorney general's office] are equally false and unfounded," the release states.

An email from Rawlings did not address the specific assertions of either the lawsuit or the attorney general's office statement.

"I read Mr. Shurtleff's complaint, I read the attorney general's office press release," Rawlings wrote. "I look forward to providing my own testimony based on actual demonstrable facts."

Shurtleff was charged in 2014 with felony and misdemeanor crimes stemming from allegations of bribery and corruption during the 12 years he was attorney general.

In a letter to Rawlings, Reyes said he had tapped the Davis County Republican to handle the case because he believed it was important to pursue allegations of criminal wrongdoing, but "imprudent if not impossible" for the attorney general's office to investigate or prosecute Shurtleff or any others who had ties to the office.

"Seeking the truth about the charges against former leaders of this office and any other individuals who may or may not be culpable is an integral part of putting the past behind us and maintaining public trust," Reyes wrote.

The letter gives Rawlings statewide powers to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes and promises that Reyes' office would not "direct how, when or against whom you may choose to bring charges, or how you try such matters in court, or negotiate pleas or other resolutions related thereto."

The letter, which is attached as an exhibit to Shurtleff's lawsuit, also states that a "conflict screen" had been created in Reyes' office to separate all but two lawyers in the attorney general's office from the case.

In court papers, Shurtleff's attorney says that evidence issues and misconduct concerns that arose during the course of the prosecution prompted a conversation about a cooperation agreement with Rawlings that might resolve the case. Under the agreement, Shurtleff would provide information about individuals, including former Utah Attorney General John Swallow, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Ward, all of whom Rawlings was investigating as part of a wider public corruption probe.

In return, the document states, Rawlings would agree not to oppose a defense motion to dismiss the Shurtleff case.

The deal, Shurtleff's attorney contends, was a way for the "state to save face, by salvaging some benefit from its massive investment of resources into the prosecution."

Shurtleff's case was tossed out in late July 2016 on a petition from Rawlings that was filed weeks after the dismissal sought by the defense team.

In its news release, the attorney general's office states that 3rd District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills granted the dismissal after considering motions from both Rawlings and Shurtleff's team.

"If that has the effect of saving taxpayers and the state of Utah paying attorneys' fees, then it's consistent with the responsibility of the [attorney general's office] to protect the assets of the state wherever possible."

The judge's July 27, 2016, ruling characterized the dismissal differently, however.

"Because the state requests voluntary dismissal," she wrote, "the court grants the state motion and finds it unnecessary to determine defendant's motion."

Under Utah law, state officials or employees accused of crimes during the course of doing their jobs are entitled to recoup reasonable legal fees and costs. That is possible only when a defendant is acquitted by a jury or if a defense motion gets the charges dropped, not when the dismissal is sought by a prosecutor.

Technically, Hruby-Mills granted the dismissal at Rawlings' behest. Shurtleff's side contends the cooperation agreement was essentially a contract between the former attorney general and the state, which should not have been broken by Reyes.

Additionally, court papers say, Rawlings' motion cites the cooperation agreement as one of his grounds for seeking dismissal, which shows his intention not to block Shurtleff's petitions.

"It was the functional equivalent to acquiescence," Parker wrote, "as evidenced in part by its timing and in part by its recital of the cooperation agreement as the basis for the motion."

In its statement, Reyes' office accuses Shurtleff of trying to do an end run around the judge's ruling with a "baseless claim" intended to embarrass the attorney general.

"The only real legal question," the office said, "is whether an agreement existed between [Rawlings] and Mr. Shurtleff."

The state is generally immune from lawsuits, but, under a section of Utah law, such immunity is waived "as to any contractual obligation," court papers say.

The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $1.1 million in general, special and consequential damages, plus attorney fees and other costs. The total amount would be determined by a jury.