Utah » Attorney General-elect John Swallow says he’ll uphold law but won’t actively enforce it.
By lindsay whitehurst
The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Dec 15 2012
Set to take over as Utah’s top lawman at a pivotal time for polygamists, Attorney General-elect John Swallow said he doesn’t plan to prosecute consenting adults in plural marriages but will defend the law that makes the practice a felony.
“I’ve thought about that a lot,” he said in a recent interview. While Swallow said he’s concerned about child abuse, domestic abuse and fraud, “otherwise law-abiding partners are not going to be prosecuted while I’m attorney general.”
There are an estimated 38,000 people in polygamous communities, many in Utah, and the state doesn’t have the resources to prosecute all those in plural marriages or deal with the ripple-effect consequences, Swallow said. His approach to prosecuting polygamy will continue that of Mark Shurtleff, his predecessor and boss until Jan. 7.
But there will still be plenty of polygamy-related issues drawing Swallow’s attention: He will defend the state from a lawsuit challenging Utah’s polygamy ban that has progressed further than any other case of its kind, seek an end to a massive case involving a polygamous community’s multimillion-dollar property trust, and deal with the fallout from a time of intense turmoil among followers of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs.
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