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Senate Confirms U Professor As Federal District Court Judge

Paul G. Cassell

May 13, 2002 — The United States Senate today voted to confirm Paul G. Cassell, James I. Farr Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, to serve as a United States District Court Judge for the District of Utah.

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve as a judge,” said Cassell. “I appreciate the confidence that the Senate has shown in me and look forward to working with the other distinguished judges in the state.”

“The federal bench in Utah enjoys an outstanding reputation. It is a bit daunting to be following in the footsteps of so many great judges, and I hope to live up to the high standards that they have set.”

In support of Cassell’s nomination on the Senate floor, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch said, “Cassell is one of the most qualified people ever nominated to the district court bench. He has unquestioned competence, a track record of hard work, a commitment to justice, and has demonstrated abilities as a public servant.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California also supported the nomination, saying, “I have had the pleasure of working with Paul Cassell. I have found him to be bright, sensitive, even-handed, and to have a deep concern for victims of crime.”

President Bush nominated Cassell June 19, 2001, to fill the vacancy created by Judge David Sam taking senior status. On March 19, 2002, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Cassell”s nomination. The committee voted 15-4 on May 2 to confirm Cassell.

Erik Luna, an associate professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, commented, “Professor Cassell has the temperament and the ability to be an outstanding federal judge. I am sure that he will serve for many years with great distinction.”

Before accepting an appointment at the U in 1991, Cassell served as a federal prosecutor for more than three years, trying more than a dozen felony jury trials. From 1986 to 1988, he served as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice. He clerked for Chief Justice of the United States, Warren Burger, and Judge Antonin Scalia, then a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Cassell graduated from Stanford Law School in 1984, where he served as president of the Stanford Law Review.

He is a nationally-recognized expert in criminal law issues. In 2000, he argued unsuccessfully before the United States Supreme Court that voluntary confessions by criminal defendants should not be excluded from evidence if the police made a mistake with Miranda warnings. Cassell has also represented crime victims without charge in courts throughout the country. He successfully represented victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in their efforts to obtain access to court proceedings. In April, in State v. Casey, the Utah Supreme Court agreed with Cassell that a crime victim has the right to be heard before any plea bargain is concluded, although the court declined to order a new hearing in that case.