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professional soccer player, coach, novelist, lawyer, counsel to U.S. Senate committees, political aide and Justice Department administrator.

But what he likes more than anything is the excitement of arguing cases in a courtroom.He appears to be in line for U.S. attorney for Utah, which would put him back in the courtroom more often.

"I know I will still have a lot of administrative duties. But I will have more opportunity to get into the courtroom in that job than I would as an assistant attorney general," a top job for which he was also under consideration, Benson said.

"A deputy attorney general is probably more prestigious. But I want to do the type of work that a U.S. attorney does," he said.

Benson is currently associate deputy attorney general, working with Deputy Attorney General Hal Christensen - the Salt Laker who is the No. 2 man in the Justice Department and one of his former law partners.

Sens. Orrin Hatch and Jake Garn, both R-Utah, have sent their recommendations to President Bush that Benson should be the next U.S. attorney for Utah, replacing Brent D. Ward, who resigned and has been hired by Utah businessman Jon Huntsman.

Paul Smith, Hatch's press secretary, said it is now up to the White House to decide when to officially recommend Benson to the Senate for confirmation. It is unlikely that the White House would go against the suggestions of the senators, particularly since none of the other members of the Utah congressional delegation has raised any objection to Benson.

Benson has taken many turns in his professional career, the latest of which is expected now to return him to his native Utah.

Born and raised in Sandy, he and his identical twin brother, Deseret News sports editor Lee Benson, are the youngest of four children.

Dee said he and his brother had similar interests and skills throughout school.

Benson said he originally majored in physical education at BYU, where he played on the soccer team. He was good enough that he played professionally for a year with the short-lived Utah Golden Spikers team of the American Soccer League.

"The league had a rule that at least four players on a team had to be native Americans. That plus the fact that I played for BYU and was local are probably the only reasons I was on the team," he said.

Benson also had a taste of being a high school coach when as a student teacher he started the soccer team at Hillcrest High School He said wasn't enamored with the thought of being a high school coach and teacher the rest of his life, so he changed majors and aimed to attend law school - which he also did at BYU. After graduation, the former defensive-back soccer player became a defense lawyer.

He eventually worked for the firm of Snow, Christensen & Martineau, where he handled a wide variety of cases.

"They included securities fraud, antitrust, product liability, personal injury, white and blue collar crime, breach of contract and medical and legal malpractice. At the time, I was only one of a few lawyers at the firm who did any criminal defense work," he said.

He loved criminal work so much that he asked the U.S. magistrate to keep an eye out for interesting felony cases where he might be assigned by the court to defend indigents.

He remembers one such case was defending a man who robbed a bank while drunk. "He tried to get in the front of the line to rob it, but the teller yelled at him. So he went back and stood in line. After he robbed it, he went to a cafe next door to get change for the bus."

Benson said he argued that the man needed help for alcoholism, not punishment as a bank robber. "The jury convicted him, though. I think I might have won if he hadn't pulled a gun."

Another such case was representing an Iranian during the height of the U.S. hostage situation in Teh-ran. The man was accused of having a marriage of convenience in Scotland to allow entry into the United States, and the government was trying to deport him.

Benson convinced the court to pay his costs to go to Scotland and interview witnesses of the wedding, which the defendant insisted was legitimate. Because of that high cost, the Justice Department dropped the case. "I was disappointed. Defending an Iranian during the Iran hostage crisis would be the ultimate."

Such experiences led Benson to write a novel, which won an award from the Utah Arts Council but has not yet been published. "The working title is `The Lady is Blind,' referring to justice. It is about the whole justice system."

After eight or so years in the courtroom, Benson decided to accept a repeated offer from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to become his counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He worked especially with its subcommittee on the Constitution, and organized hearings and briefs on such subjects as school prayer, the balanced budget amendment and religious freedom.

He left that post to become Hatch's administrative assistant. "It was interesting, although I've never been much of a political animal. But I helped organize his campaign, which we took very seriously because we thought (former Utah Gov.) Scott Matheson was going to be his opponent."

Benson left that to become Hatch's legal counsel to the joint committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair.