Attorney General Mark Shurtleff isn't sure he likes the expression "porn czar."

Nor is he does he really wants to saddle his new employee with the moniker "smut stalker" or "the Attorney General's Viceroy."

But he is sure he picked the right woman to hold the position of Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman, when he crowned Paula J. Houston at the Capitol building Friday.

"Today is a truly historic day for the state of Utah," the newly elected attorney general said. "I'll just tell pornographers, if you come after our kids, I'll come after you. Paula's coming after you. Paula Houston is the right person for this fight."

Utah needs someone fighting against those who would proliferate pornography and victimize children, Shurtleff said. But just what the new czarina will do is still unclear.

Shurtleff said he envisions Houston as an information resource area of law that is complicated and in many ways untested.

Among other things, Shurtleff said he hopes Houston can help Utah parents access services that could block pornographic Internet sites from their home computers, or assist cities and counties to interpret state and federal laws. Shurtleff also wants Houston to help prosecutors in Utah's cities and counties, by staying on top of case law across the nation, he said.

What she won't do is trample anyone's First Amendment rights.

"The First Amendment is extremely important to our communities. We have to have our communities set the standards," Houston said. "One of the first things I want to do is compare Utah's laws to other state laws to see if we have the best laws we can have."

As a city prosector for West Valley City for more than 15 years, Houston has worked closely with police and drug, porn and domestic violence cases. One of her first cases ended with the conviction of a person who was distributing "hard-core" pornographic videos from a store. Other cases have led to convictions of those selling porn videos at local flea markets and a West Valley elementary school teacher who fondled several female students.

"There were two things I developed a passion for, (fighting) domestic violence and pornography," said Houston who acknowledged there is no "hard and fast" plan or direction for her new job.

Asked for her opinion of what constitutes porn, Houston provided only a legal definition. And she declined to say how she might have handled such high-profile cases, such as the 1996 Lehi Movie Buffs suit, in which store manger Larry W. Peterman was acquitted of allegations that he was distributing pornography.

She did say that "nudity is not pornography," and the purpose of her job is not to launch a witch hunt for bookstores or other businesses that make some types of publications or videos available.

Houston gets high marks from her law enforcement colleagues at the West Valley Police Department. Chief Alan Kerstein said she has been an excellent liaison between the legal department and the police. She has aggressively prosecuted landlords who have rented to drug dealers and who have failed to clean up homes where meth labs were found.

An attorney since 1988, Houston has spent her whole career with West Valley City. She has also been heavily involved in domestic violence issues, serving on the board of the South Valley Sanctuary, and has provided specialized domestic violence training for police officers and volunteers at the Department of Human Services. She has served on a state committee to improve jury selections.

The ombudsman position was written into law by legislators last year and funded at $75,000. Previous Attorney General Jan Graham did not fill the job, but Shurtleff made it one of his campaign promises. He said he is seeking additional funding from legislators during this session.


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