- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Two former Utah attorneys general made their first appearance as criminal defendants Wednesday, vowing to beat a slew of bribery charges and other counts.

Between the two, Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow spent nearly 13 years running Utah’s top law enforcement office.

Both wore suits and ties as they sat a few feet apart on a bench inside a Salt Lake City courtroom Wednesday. They then stood together in front of a judge for less than five minutes as the judge ran through a few formalities with their attorneys and scheduled another hearing on Aug. 18

Shurtleff and Swallow have not yet entered pleas but told about 30 swarming reporters Wednesday that they want to prove their innocence.

“Facts will show that I’m innocent of all the things they’ve said I’ve done, and that’s all I have to say,” Swallow said afterward.

Shurtleff dismissed the possibility of accepting a plea deal.

“There’s no plea_what would I plead to? There’s nothing to plead to,” he said. “When I say these are frivolous, false charges, I absolutely mean it.”

Two hours before his court appearance, Shurtleff posed for a selfie with his 17-year-old daughter, who was holding up a piece of paper that read “#justice.” His daughter, Annie Shurtleff, tweeted the image along with the message “We are ready.”

Legal experts say the case could take years to resolve as lawyers navigate a scandal involving nearly two dozen charges, hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence and some dubious witnesses.

Both men face numerous charges of bribery, obstruction of justice and other counts that prosecutors say stem in part from cozy relationships with businessmen who offered gold coins, luxury vacations and use of a private jet.

They each face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Shurtleff, 56, arrived at the courthouse with his wife and daughter. He was on crutches and wore a medical boot on one foot as he recovered from a recent surgery.

Swallow, 51, was flanked by his attorneys and left quickly afterward.

Legal experts said that because allegations against the Republican politicians have been playing out on front pages and evening newscasts for about a year and a half, it could be difficult to find an impartial jury in Utah.

“If you missed the news on this one, you’re either in another state or you’re not somebody anybody would like to have as a juror,” said Kent Morgan, a criminal defense attorney and former Salt Lake County prosecutor.

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