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.