September 21, 2007-The Honorable Paul G. Cassell today announced he intends to return to the faculty of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah and submitted his letter of resignation to President George W. Bush. His last day on the bench for the United States District Court for the District of Utah will be November 5, 2007.
“I am both honored and thrilled that Judge Cassell has decided to accept an offer to return to teach and conduct research at the U,” remarked Dean Hiram Chodosh. “He will contribute invaluably to our exciting and exemplary Utah Criminal Justice Center and joins the most outstanding criminal justice team in the country.”
In his letter to President Bush, Judge Cassell praised his fellow judges in the District of Utah, past and present, and he cited two professional opportunities as reasons for stepping down from the federal bench. One is the chance to teach again at Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law which will give him time to pursue research in his area of greatest scholarly interest-crime victims’ rights. The other is an offer from the National Crime Victims Law Institute to litigate crime victim cases across the country.
“While I regret leaving the bench I am truly excited to return to the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah to pursue teaching, scholarship and public advocacy on important criminal justice issues,” said Judge Cassell.
Paul G. Cassell was appointed to the U.S. District Court in the District of Utah by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate in May of 2002, but his long and brilliant legal career began with his graduation from Stanford Law School in 1984. He started as a law clerk for then U.S. Appeals Court Judge Antonin Scalia and later for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren E. Burger. In 1986 Judge Cassell was appointed Associate Deputy Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1988 he was named Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Judge Cassell was first named professor of law at the University of Utah in 1991. While teaching at the S.J. Quinney College of Law he received many honors and awards, including the 1997 Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence.
Judge Cassell’s more recent legal dossier is marked with notable achievements. In 2002, he became the youngest person ever appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. He quickly established himself as one of the leading jurists in the country. His career was marked by several notable opinions. In his 2004 decision in the United States v. Croxford, Judge Cassell became the first judge in the country to hold that the federal sentencing guidelines were unconstitutional under Supreme Court jury precedence. In 2005, Judge Cassell became the first judge to interpret the meaning of the Supreme Court Booker decision on the new advisory nature of the guidelines. In 2004, defense attorneys applauded Judge Cassell for authoring a lengthy opinion decrying a 55-year mandatory minimum sentence he was required to impose on a low level marijuana dealer. Also in 2005, Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed Judge Cassell to be the Chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law.