Cache County attorney reflects on 12 years in office

Prosecuting attorneys James Swink, left, and Spencer Walsh looks over paper work during Colter Peterson's sentencing for attempted aggravated murder and robbery, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Logan, Utah. Peterson received a sentence of 15 years to life for shooting Deserae Turner in February 2017, and leaving her for dead in a dry irrigation canal in Smithfield, Utah.

LOGAN — After working as the Cache County Attorney for 12 years, James Swink says it has been a real privilege to serve but he feels he has reached the end of his term. He and his staff oversee criminal, civil, and juvenile cases throughout the county, along with assisting in judicial matters in neighboring counties.

Swink said it breaks his heart to be stepping aside but the timing was right for him and his family.

“After 12 years of holding a public office,” said Swink, “I am a believer of term limits, and this is kind of the self-imposed term limits that I had set, and it is a good time to move forward and move on. My dad always taught me to leave a campsite and a job better than you found it, and that is what I tried to do with the help of a lot of people. We were able to accomplish some good things in the county attorney’s office.

Swink officially left his position July 5 to become a criminal prosecutor with the Weber County Attorney’s Office. It is an office he worked in previously after moving back to Utah from Idaho, where he had been a judicial clerk.

Swink said it has been gratifying to work for the residents of Cache County. At the same time, there have also been a lot of tough issues, especially with criminal cases.

“My family hasn’t had an uninterrupted vacation for the last 12 years and that just goes with the job. Some of those things that have happened are really serious and take the attention of the elected official and staff to work through issues and make decisions. Those things can be challenging but also keeping the public safe is a high priority.”

There have been several high-profile cases that Swink oversaw and helped prosecute. They include Colter Peterson and Jayzon Decker, the two men that attempted to kill Deserae Turner. Also, the conviction of Torrey Green, the former Utah State University football player, who was found guilty of raping multiple female students.

Cache County prosecutor James Swink talks to defense attorney Gregory Skordas during Lesley Jensen’s sentencing in 1st District Court on Tuesday. Jensen committed two counts of communications fraud and two counts of forgery, when she forged medical documents that claimed that she had cancer, and accepted money that was donated to her from fundraisers.

Swink said the county has seen an increase in the number of domestic and sex abuse assaults while he has been in office. To address the influx, the county council approved the hiring of two new deputy attorneys. They solely prosecute domestic violence and sex crimes.

“Our community is not untouched by that. We are finding innovative ways to address those issues and get treatment for those offenders. Also, protecting victims that are in those difficult situations.”

One of the primary focuses Swink has had is helping victims, or survivors of abuse. In some way, the announcement of his departure during the ribbon cutting for the new Children’s Justice Center (CJC) was fitting. It is a project he has made a priority since being elected.

Swink, who has chaired the Utah Office for Victims of Crime while as the county attorney, said he feels Cache County has led the state in meeting the needs of victims. He said the victim services division in the attorney’s office and the new CJC is something the county can really be proud of.

“I am convinced that as we focus on victims, we make better decisions throughout the criminal justice system. I am glad to see the legislature is starting to come back to that. We have always had really great support from our local legislators and from the county council, supporting those victim services. A great example of that is the CJC open house.”

As he moves to the Weber County Attorney’s Office, Swink is looking forward to becoming a U.S. Attorney and prosecuting cases in Federal Court. He and his family plan to continue living in Cache Valley.

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