Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam has picked to be his chief deputy a man who once ran for attorney general and who represents convicted killer William Andrews.
Joseph E. Tesch, a long-time prosecutor who served as Van Dam's deputy in the Salt Lake County attorney's office 10 years ago, has the experience and skills needed to provide leadership for the office, Van Dam said Tuesday.Tesch, who ran unsuccessfully against former Utah Attorney General David Wilkinson for attorney general in 1984, was Wasatch County attorney until 1986.
In his first official day in office, Van Dam also met with Paul M. Warner, chief deputy to former Attorney General David Wilkinson, to determine his future with the office. Van Dam beat Wilkinson in November's election in a close race to become the only major state Democrat to win.
A source close to Warner said he will leave the Utah attorney general's office and go to the U.S. attorney general's office.
"I have career status, and that's valuable. I am not just going to walk away until I work out details," Warner said.
He said his previous meetings with Van Dam have been cordial and amicable, but it's clear Van Dam wants him to leave.
"I don't fault him that he wants his own team to go forward."
It's under Warner's direction that the Utah attorney general's office became involved in prosecuting child sexual abuses cases throughout the state. Prior to that time, the prosecution was left to county attorneys.
"But people started coming to us; we could see a void and we tried to fill it," he said. His office last December successfully prosecuted Allan B. Hadfield, a Lehi father convicted of of sodomizing and sexually molesting his son and daughter. Hadfield spent six months in jail and is undergoing court-ordered treatment for child sex abusers.
Warner said that since the Hadfield conviction, the attorney general's office has been inundated with requests from county attorney generals and concerned parents.
Tesch was one of three attorneys representing Andrews, convicted in the murders of three people at the Ogden Hi-Fi Shop in 1974. Andrews has been sentenced to die, and his attorneys have been petitioning the state and U.S. supreme courts to spare his life.
Tesch and the other attorneys have argued that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
During his recent campaign against Wilkinson, Van Dam promised to continue to seek the executions of Andrews and other convicted killers.
In making the announcement Tuesday, Van Dam cited Tesch's experience as a prosecutor, particularly dealing with organized crime while an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County in Wisconsin. Tesch also headed a unit that trained attorneys in that office, Van Dam said.
He said Tesch developed innovative programs in Wasatch County, including a preventive law program and an on-the-spot legal advice plan for county commissioners.
"Joe has the prosecution experience and organizational skills to be an excellent addition to the attorney general's office," Van Dam said. "He works well with people and will provide the leadership this office needs."