Dee Benson

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Dee V. Benson was a longtime district federal judge. He died on November 30, 2020, eight months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.

He was born on August 25, 1948, to Gilbert and Beryl Despain Benson and grew up in Sandy, Utah. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a missionary in Sweden.

Although he planned to coach high school soccer with his physical education degree from Brigham Young University, he moved toward law when he was accepted into the charter class of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. He graduated in 1976 in the top ten of his class and was editor of the law review.

In the summer of 1976, he enjoyed a brief career as a professional soccer player when he was one of four native-born Americans who made the roster of the Salt Lake Golden Spikers, Utah’s first pro soccer franchise.

Benson worked for the Salt Lake law firm Snow, Christensen & Martineau before moving to Washington, D.C. to join Senator Orrin Hatch’s staff as legal counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Later he was Senator Hatch’s chief of staff for two years. He was counsel to the Iran-Contra investigating committee for a year. He then worked for the Department of Justice as an Associate Deputy Attorney General. In 1989 he returned to Utah when he was appointed U.S. Attorney for Utah by President George H.W. Bush. In 1991, President Bush nominated him to be a federal judge for the District of Utah. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and served on the federal bench for 29 years. He was Chief Judge for the Utah District from 1999 to 2006.

Benson also taught at both the BYU and the University of Utah law schools. He was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court (Chief Justice William Rehnquist) to serve on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court in Washington, D.C., where he served from 2004 to 2011. Chief Justice John Roberts appointed him to serve on the Judicial Conference of the United States.

He was the father of four children and grandfather to ten grandchildren with one due at the time of his death. His twin brother is Deseret News columnist Lee Benson.