Wasatch County Attorney Steven L. Hansen has been appointed special prosecutor in the drug investigation against Salt Lake County Commissioner Dave Watson.
Hansen, elected county attorney in 1986, will handle any drug charges that may arise as a result of Watson's arrest Sunday, said Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom, who has chosen to excuse his office from the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.Yocom and Watson are both Democrats, and Watson has a vote on Yocom's budget.
A Republican who beat incumbent Democrat Joe Tesch, Hansen is well-qualified to act as special prosecutor because of extensive experience in criminal law, Yocom said.
Watson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for re-election in this Saturday's county convention, was stopped after South Salt Lake Police Officer Elaine Chapman noticed him driving erratically near 21st S. State. When she searched the commissioner she found a small vial that contained less than a gram of a substance that appeared to be cocaine, according to a field test conducted by police.
South Salt Lake City Attorney Clint Balmforth, who is prosecuting Watson on a city drunken driving charge, said South Salt Lake police will then screen the report with Hansen, who will decide whether there is enough probable cause to charge Watson with drug possession.
If Hansen decides to prosecute Watson, the charges will be filed in 3rd Circuit Court in Salt Lake City.