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Ex-prosecutor honored for dogged work

During 21 years with the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office and seven years prior to that with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department, Michael George lived by the motto, "I may get beat, but I'll never be outworked."

True to his motto, George worked as hard as or harder than any prosecutor in town. And fortunately for all the residents of Salt Lake County, he rarely was beaten.

Tuesday, George received the Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award by the Salt Lake Chapter of the International Footprint Association. The award was given to commemorate George's 28 years of service. He recently retired as chief investigator of the District Attorney's Office

During his nearly three decades of fighting crime, many of the valley's highest profile cases ended up on his desk.

Mark Hoffman, Arthur Gary Bishop, Angel Martinez, Joseph Paul Franklin, Daniel Ray Troyer and Forest Whittle are just a few of the convictions that can be credited to George's work.

George said he liked working those cases. While many believe prosecuting is 99 percent boredom and 1 percent sheer terror, George said his career was otherwise.

The cases he got were interesting. His job allowed him to get a glimpse of the dark side of the human mind, he said.

"I would tell prosecutors if you like the work I did on this case, give me the next one," George said.

The hardest case George worked was convicting Arthur Gary Bishop, who was executed in 1988 for the murder of five young boys. The case was difficult for George because of the age of the victims, the emotions of the families and because he was a father himself.

George has moved to the other side of the courtroom. He accepted a job about a month ago for a newly created federal defender's office in Salt Lake City.

"It's going to be interesting," George said.

"It's hard to look back over 28 years," George said. "It seems like just yesterday I walked in the door for the first time."