Article, Uncle Dee and Me

JurisdictionUtah,United States
CitationVol. 34 No. 3 Pg. 14
Publication year2021
Article, Uncle Dee and Me
No. Vol. 34 No. 3 Pg. 14
Utah Bar Journal
June, 2021

May, 2021

Uncle Dee and Me

by Eric Benson

“May I approach the witness, Your Honor?” The young attorney, situated behind the lectern in the vast courtroom, asked with a twinge of nervousness in his voice.

I was seated in the back of the large courtroom on the second floor of the Frank E. Moss courthouse in Salt Lake City and had absolutely no idea what to do with my life. The judge presiding over the hearing was my uncle, Dee Benson. At the time, I had just finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Utah, where I had majored in mass communications, attended class occasionally, and watched SportsCenter four or five times a day. Other than parking cars at a local restaurant on nights and weekends, I didn’t have a steady job, so my days were pretty free – and one day that spring after I graduated, I came to the courthouse to check out Uncle Dee in action. That day, as I watched the lawyers offer arguments, keep track of exhibits, examine witnesses, and make objections on the fly, I thought to myself: “This is pretty cool, maybe I’ll give this a shot.”

Growing up, Dee and I were always close. He is my dad’s twin – Lee and Dee – and I had always looked up to my Uncle Dee. Early on, we shared an affinity for convenience stores, and I knew that if you were with Dee, he was always buying – a trait that made him very likeable and popular. I knew he was a lawyer of some variety, that he had been in Washington, DC, with Senator Hatch in the 1980s and helped with some hearings about Iran. I loved going to visit my cousins in Washington, DC, but didn’t really think much about my uncle’s career, or what he actually did every day.

In 1989, when I was in junior high, Uncle Dee and my cousins moved from Washington back to Utah when Dee was appointed U.S. Attorney for Utah. Again, I remained mostly clueless as to what he did exactly – although it seemed like he knew a lot about drug dealers and how they operated, which was kind of cool, and he spoke to a church youth group I was part of and somehow managed to pull out a kilo of cocaine on the spot to show us from a case he had been working on (thirty years later, I’m still not sure how he pulled that one off).

In late 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Dee to the bench for the district court here in Utah. I had basketball practice that day and skipped his investiture. In high school, when my friends...

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