Friday, September 21, 2007

Shocking (and avoidable?): Judge Cassell's resignation

Utah's legal community was shocked today by the surprise resignation of federal district court judge Paul Cassell. Cassell was appointed six years ago over objections by NancyPelosiMoveOnDotOrgLiberals (c)Sean Hannity that he would wear himself out trampling over our basic constitutional rights. (He had, for example, made a name for himself by arguing that criminals should not be entitled to those wussy "Miranda rights".)

As it turns out, Cassell gained a reputation as an intelligent, hard-working, thoughtful judge. Yes, he has a passion for victims' rights, but he was also one of the first judges in the country to question the constitutionality of federal mandatory sentencing laws. So why did Cassell leave? He will be going back to his former job at the U of U law school, with some private work on the side. In a nutshell, he will work just as hard, but for twice the money. The continued low pay for judges (compared to the private sector) was one reason mentioned by Cassell in his letter of resignation:

And finally, I would be less than completely candid if I did not mention the uncertainty surrounding judicial pay as a factor in my decision. With three talented children approaching college years, it has been difficult for my wife and me to make financial plans. As you know, this year federal judges have yet to receive even a cost of living pay increase. Your much appreciated proposal to raise judicial salaries has yet to be acted on by Congress. I would like to ensure that my children will have the same educational opportunities that I had. How to achieve that within the constraints on current judicial pay is more than a difficult task. My wife and I have concluded that we may not be able to do what we have always planned to do unless I make some changes.
U. S. Chief Justice John Roberts (and we) warned about this risk last January, if something wasn't done. Now Utah has lost an excellent judge, and perhaps opened itself up to a year of nasty political infighting while his position remains vacant. Just great.

16 comments:

Jesse Harris said...

It doesn't end at judicial pay either. State law enforcement in many states (Utah included) is far lower than their municipal counterparts causing massive turnover issues. It's ironic that we won't take our state government to task for failing to maintain a basic system of law and order but that a $15M dental program causes such a large flap.

Part of the Plan said...

It's not ironic, it's pitiful and iconic. Let's face it...the average Utahn thinks "law and order" means the right to pack a pistol everywhere, and to use it "judiciously."

Alienated Wannabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alienated Wannabe said...

As an aspiring member of the Guardian Angels, I was actually looking forward to packing a pistol to use judiciously in Pioneer Park as I saw fit. (Long hair, twelve O'clock!) But, you have since planted the seed of doubt in my mind with the mocking commentary of your latest blog entry, so I am now wavering in my resolution.

As for the resignation of Judge Cassell, I think he is a nice guy, but I am not thrilled with how he handled that Angelos case -- it was extremely odd considering his supposed conservative outlook.

Once again, class: The Legislative Branch creates the law, the Executive Branch enforces the law, and the Judicial branch interprets the law -- unless they do not agree with it, in which case they simply make threats to not apply it, that is, until a senior colleague such as Dee Benson privately brings them back to their senses.

No matter the merit of his complaints, to a cynic it looked like he was trying to moderate his image for a future Supreme Court appointment. Such judicial activism is frustrating enough to us conservatives when committed by left-wingers, but when our own get into the act, it is beyond depressing.

I now have a new theory as to the identity of VoU-1. Could it be R.Y.? As for VoU-2, I still like to think of you as being M.K.J., but I know that is unlikely. Please forgive me for my irresponsible speculation. I don't like it when people do it to me, but I am trying to moderate my image for a future Utah Amicus appointment. (I'm gunning for the vacant Tom Barbari slot.)

Voice of Utah said...

AW, please let us know when you go on your first stroll as a G.A. We want a picture.

R.Y.? Alas, no one as illustrious, but thanks for the compliment.

Alienated Wannabe said...

Well, my friends, it is more likely that you are Elders Jenson and Morrison than it is that I will ever go on a stroll as a GA.

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