Departing U.S. Attorney Brent Ward leaves behind an eight-year Utah legacy marked by his crusades against white-collar crime, tax fraud, pornography, drug trafficking, and sexual abuse of children.

It is a legacy to be proud of.Ward has served as the chief federal prosecutor in Utah since 1981. He announced his resignation this week, saying he was leaving government work to go into private practice.

Ward's energy was unflagging during his eight years in office. He was driven by the conviction that the dragons he chose to slay - from white-collar crime to pornography - threatened the quality of life in Utah.

He spoke his mind eloquently and forcefully. When Ward condemned an act, he condemned it thoroughly. His comment in 1981 on drug trafficking - "one of the most vicious and depraved activities conceived by the mind of man," was the first of many scathing denunciations of crimes he considered particularly heinous.

He doesn't mince words.

He took his dragonslaying to the floor of the State Legislature, the halls of Congress and - always - the public. His press conferences have become legend among local media.

Beginning with his year as student body president of Highland High School, through several college honors, and even more professional coups, Ward grew accustomed to the limelight. He came to expect it.

That meant he fought his battles in full view of public scrutiny. By doing so, he made the public more sensitive to the evils of pornography, the lasting scars left by investment scams and pryamid schemes, and the urgent need to protect our children.

He has set high standards of performance for the person who succeeds him as U.S. attorney.