Complaint to Utah Bar to Focus on Swallow’s Ethical Lapses

Calls for Utah Attorney General John Swallow’s resignation have now come from two Utah newspapers, the Daily Herald and the Salt Lake Tribune. Other organizations and individuals throughout the state, including Swallow himself, are calling for independent investigations. The Utah Democratic Party has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an investigation, and conservative blogger and former state legislator Holly Richardson has also called for an independent investigation.

Although the legal questions remain important points of investigation, an equally important investigation is whether or not Swallow has violated ethical rules not only as the state’s leading law enforcement officer, but also as a member of the law profession. The Alliance for a Better UTAH plans to file a formal complaint with the Utah Bar Association to ascertain whether or not Swallow has run afoul the association’s Rules of Professional Conduct. If he has, Swallow could face disbarment.

As a completely self-regulated industry, the law profession is especially situated to investigate claims of ethical lapses, as well as provide opportunities for a more thorough review of ethical practices throughout the state.

“Lawyers self-regulate, making the bar association uniquely positioned to address Swallow’s ethical conduct as the state’s chief law enforcement officer,” said Maryann Martindale, Better Utah executive director, in an interview with the Deseret New’s Dennis Romboy. 

Various news outlets throughout the state have returned to this theme in their coverage of the developing scandal.

“Whether he has done anything that violates the bar association’s code of responsibility and whether any of that would require him to be reprimanded or disbarred” should be considered, said Better UTAH founder Joshua Kanter in an interview with ABC4’s Marcos Ortiz. 

The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX13 also noted the importance of examining this ethical dimension.

“Who’s he truly representing?” asked Martindale in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune. A similar line of inquiry was highlighted by FOX13’s Nineveh Dinha.

“He should not prioritize the interest of one client over another and he should not act adversely to the interest of his client,” said Martindale. “Well, we’re his clients.”

KUER’s Dan Bammes also reported on Better UTAH’s call for a formal inquiry by the bar association.

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