SALT LAKE CITY — Assistant Utah attorney general Tom Brunker was recognized as the office's attorney of the year for his work on the Ronnie Lee Gardner case.

During the two months between the day an execution warrant was signed and Gardner died before a firing squad in June, Brunker accumulated more than 160 hours of overtime.

"Justice came slow for the victims of Ronnie Lee Gardner but justice was finally delivered thanks to the brilliant legal work and dedication of Tom Brunker," says Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

Brunker was honored not only for his work on the Gardner case but also for his efforts for crime victims and their families in other cases. He has taken the lead to reform post-conviction appeals in the legislature and in the courts. Last year he received the Crime Victim Service Award from the Utah Council on Crime Victims.

"Tom is irreplaceable," said Laura Dupaix, criminal appeals division chief. "I don't think I know a more precise legal thinker or more congenial colleague."