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Former Federal Judge Joins Notorious Conspiracy:

I'm delighted to report that the judiciary's loss is our gain: Prof. Paul Cassell will be joining us a coblogger.

Paul is a law professor at the University of Utah and a leading scholar on victim's rights, criminal procedure, and sentencing; from 2002 to 2007, he served as a Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. If you're interested, you can see Paul's extremely impressive c.v. here. Welcome, Paul, to our merry band!

alias:
Wow. Welcome.
1.14.2008 5:34pm
Viceroy:
Yowza. That's cool.
1.14.2008 5:42pm
hattio1:
Wow,
Based on the titles of his articles, I doubt I'm going to agree with him on much of anything.
1.14.2008 5:46pm
Sean M:
Quite the coup for the Conspiracy! Congratulations and welcome aboard, professor!
1.14.2008 5:47pm
Cory J (mail):
Great addition! Welcome aboard.
1.14.2008 6:01pm
SenatorX (mail):
"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."

Hey Mr. Liberal another sociopath for you!! /s
1.14.2008 6:04pm
taney71:
I am guessing Hatch pressed for his appointment? Or was it the other Utah senator (can't remember his name)?
1.14.2008 6:29pm
guest:
Should we address him as Judge or Professor?
1.14.2008 6:49pm
KeithK (mail):
More importantly, what color will he be?
1.14.2008 6:57pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
KeithK: Check the right sidebar, where our color-coded masthead resides.
1.14.2008 7:12pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
How will his kids go to college if he wastes time posting?
1.14.2008 7:12pm
Dave N (mail):
More importantly, what color will he be?
Forest green--at least on my IE page.

As a proud U. of U. alum (though before Professor Cassell's time), and as an avid reader of his thoughtful articles on issues important to me, I want to wish him a sincere welcome and hope that he posts often.
1.14.2008 7:14pm
Jagman:
Former Federal Judge, er ? Super!
Sir, I have several unpaid parking tickets. I was wondering if you could...Nah! Probably not. :-}
1.14.2008 7:24pm
OrinKerr:
Should we address him as Judge or Professor?

How about The Dear Honorable Blogger Professor?
1.14.2008 7:25pm
Mr. Liberal:

Hey Mr. Liberal another sociopath for you!!


I think a minority of libertarians are sociopaths. But, I think that sociopaths would prefer libertarianism to other political philosophies, as it ignore their abuse and using of those who are economically less fortunate.

Actually, Paul Cassell is making a lame excuse for leaving the judiciary. Do his kids need to go to private high schools to gain an advantage in college admissions that would be unnecessary if they were good enough to excel in a public highschool?

Because, if your kids have what it takes to get into Harvard, there is a way to finance it, regardless of your financial circumstances.
1.14.2008 9:36pm
OrinKerr:
Mr. Liberal,

I believe Cassell's resignation letter focuses on pursing pro bono work and returning to more intellectual pursuits as the main reason for leaving. Are those reasons also "lame" in your opinion?
1.14.2008 9:55pm
SenatorX (mail):
And taking that one part out of his reasons and quoting was perhaps wrong on my part too, if so I apologize.

I just see things differently where a man who looks after the interests of his family is to be applauded not condemned. Mr. Liberal believes instead everyone should be forced to sacrifice their interests for great sounding ideals (not him of course because he has the important work of attacking the "selfish").

I have an idea Mr. Liberal: why don't you lead by example instead of being a hypocrite? I suggest you donate your computer promptly to a needy child in the area.
1.14.2008 10:29pm
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
Awesome! My inner law geek salivates at the prospect of extensive sentencing and victims' rights discussions.
1.14.2008 10:46pm
Mr. Liberal:

I believe Cassell's resignation letter focuses on pursing pro bono work and returning to more intellectual pursuits as the main reason for leaving. Are those reasons also "lame" in your opinion?


No, I do not think that is a lame reason to leave.

Which is the better job, law professor or federal district court judge? If you like intellectual stimulation, probably the law professor job is better.

The education issue reason is still lame. =)

I'm sorry if Mr. Cassell's kids can't hack it without expensive tutors and/or an expensive private high school.
1.14.2008 10:52pm
Mr. Liberal:

I just see things differently where a man who looks after the interests of his family is to be applauded not condemned.


I never condemned him. The word "condemn" is strong language.
1.14.2008 10:53pm
SenatorX (mail):
(man to his wife)- Honey, I think the kids need to go to the crappiest school around so we can see if they can "hack it".
1.14.2008 11:25pm
guest:

Should we address him as Judge or Professor?

How about The Dear Honorable Blogger Professor?



In all seriousness, he has earned both honorifics, but I wonder -- as a matter of etiquette and perhaps Judge/Prof. Cassell's personal preference -- which one should be used.
1.14.2008 11:30pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Well, I know I will disagree with a lot of what he says, but there is no way I will be able to make snarky comments to a former federal judge.

I'm sorry if Mr. Cassell's kids can't hack it without expensive tutors and/or an expensive private high school.

It's probably a good idea to not attack Judge Cassell's kids -- even if you think he brought them into it somehow, you can show a little class.
1.14.2008 11:32pm
OrinKerr:
Mr. Liberal,

Your tone seems rather nasty in this thread. I'm not sure why, but I don't think it's appropriate.

Orin
1.14.2008 11:46pm
SenatorX (mail):
"More recently, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Cassell, in Salt Lake City, lamented that he had to sentence a first-time drug offender to 55 years, calling the term "unjust, cruel and irrational." Cassell, a staunch conservative and former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia who now teaches at the University of Utah law school, unsuccessfully urged President George W. Bush to commute the sentence to no more than 18 years."

He appears to be against minimum sentencing for drug users. I hope he blogs about this case and other unjust examples regarding the war on drugs. 55 years for a first time offender?! Sheesh. That's a reason to quit right there.
1.15.2008 12:20am
Lev:
Welcome.

But what is a cob logger?
1.15.2008 12:57am
Eugene Volokh (www):
What part of "cob logger" didn't you understand?
1.15.2008 1:12am
Public_Defender (mail):

With three talented children approaching college years, it has been difficult for my wife and me to make financial plans.


I tend to question the judgment of someone who can't budget for a family on a mere $165K a year. Poor fellow.
1.15.2008 5:43am
JNS405:
Welcome!
1.15.2008 9:57am
PLR:
Awesome! My inner law geek salivates at the prospect of extensive sentencing and victims' rights discussions.

Ditto. Victims' rights are way cool, 'cause you can just make 'em up like our elected reps do.
1.15.2008 10:56am
frankcross (mail):
Setting aside Mr. Liberal's hostility, it seems most of the Conspirators have taken a strong position that judicial pay raises are inappropriate. They should engage the issue with the new kid.
1.15.2008 11:04am
Cold Warrior:
Mr. Volokh, tear down this blog's Amazon "Click to Give" link!

Obviously blogging on the VC is now way, way, too lucrative.

On a serious note, I'm thrilled to see Blogger-Professor Cassel joining you.
1.15.2008 12:22pm
Cold Warrior:
And yes, I know it's Cassell, with two Ls.
1.15.2008 12:23pm
Mr. Liberal:

Your tone seems rather nasty in this thread. I'm not sure why, but I don't think it's appropriate.


I probably sound nastier than I feel.

The limitations of text.

But I do mean what I said. If your kids really have merit, they shouldn't need to go to an expensive private school to get into Harvard or other decent university.

You would think a libertarian would respect the old "pull yourself up from your bootstraps" ideal.
1.15.2008 12:39pm
e:
Congratulations all around.

Even my left leaning classmates appreciate his clarity and ability to present both sides.

I'm only slightly conflicted. Prof Cassell did a great job of teaching Crim Pro, but then rejected me for a clerkship which soon disappeared anyway.
1.15.2008 12:41pm
alias:
I'm tempted to go with the "don't feed the troll" approach, but since Mr. Liberal seems not to have gone away, I'll respond.

If I recall correctly, Judge Cassell indicated that he had talented children approaching college age and that that fact makes one's salary more of a concern than it would be otherwise. I think that's uncontroversially true and that college is a significant expense for most people, whether they go to a private school or a state school.

Yet, in response to a post welcoming Judge Cassell to post on the blog, you insinuate that his kids "can't hack it without expensive tutors and/or an expensive private high school," and assert that he's (1) claimed to be a libertarian, and (2) somehow acted inconsistently with that by going into public service.

By publicly stating his reasons for resigning, Judge Cassell probably opened himself up to some amount of criticism, but it's ignorant and classless to attack his children this way, to assume that any extra money he makes is going straight to Kaplan and Phillips Academy, and that a switch from the public sector to the private sector is somehow inconsistent with a "pull yourself up from your bootstraps" mentality.

If you're going to talk out of your rear end, please try to do it politely and try to keep it related to the topic of a post.
1.15.2008 1:01pm
OrinKerr:
e: If you can't have the clerkship, no one will!
1.15.2008 1:23pm
Mr. Liberal:
alias,

The bottom line. There is financial aid and student loans available for students to attend any college they can get into.

The only reason that one's income would prevent your children from getting an education at a particular school, is if they do not have enough merit to get into that school without the help of Kaplan or some private high school that will give them an non-meritocratic edge in admissions.

If your kid's have merit, they can go to any university they can get into, thanks to generous financial aid. That is how it works in America, although, I imagine that if libertarians had their way, they would change that.
1.15.2008 1:25pm
Mr. Liberal:

but it's ignorant and classless to attack his children this way


I did not attack his children. That is ridiculous. I do not believe in attacking people I do not know. And, I do not believe in attacking children for the actions of their parents.

Maybe I could have spent more time crafting my wording better. Apparently, people who strike me as fairly reasonable, like Orin Kerr, are interpreting me to be more hostile than I am. Which goes to the limitations of spontaneously written text in certain contexts.

But, my imperfect communication aside, you are pretty crazy to be interpreting me as attacking the man's children themselves. The only person I criticized was Mr. Cassell. And I didn't even criticize his decision -- I only criticized one of his stated reasons for his decision, which I think is a lame reason.

I do not have a whole lot of respect for libertarians who are against social safety nets, yet simultaneously go so far as to change careers because they do not think their own children can't "make it" otherwise.

The whole idea behind libertarianism is that people should be able to "make it" on their own, as long as they make responsible decisions, regardless of who their parents are.

That is the substantive point I am trying to express with a minimum amount of hostility. =)
1.15.2008 1:42pm
frankcross (mail):
Is there really generous financial aid available for children of families making 150K? At many schools?
1.15.2008 2:55pm
unwelcome guest:
How could I judge the judge for not hacking it on $165k a year when I would be unwilling (unable?) to do so myself - and my kids go to public school. I am a third-year attorney; that's what judges are complaining about.

For most people, their biggest expense is housing. Pretty much no matter where you are in the country, good school districts are expensive to live in. The best are almost prohibitively so, even for lawyers. There are many judges who drive beat-up old cars and clip coupons. It's a pretty sad state of affairs that Academia is seen as a step up (although I somehow doubt the judge is starting at the bottom there).
1.15.2008 3:05pm
hattio1:
Gotta say that while I find it great that he objected to 55 years for a first time drug offense, what's with the "no more than 18 years" 18 years for a first-time drug offense??!!?!?!?
What the hell happened to this country? That 18 years for a first offense that's not murder rape or molestation could be the less punitive position is absolutely sickening to me.
1.15.2008 3:06pm
unwelcome guest:
Also, while I am not an expert on libertarianism nor even a libertarian myself, I don't think Milton Friedman would say that it doesn't or shouldn't matter who your parents are. I think he would say that government efforts to address inequality are doomed to failure, that such efforts would create their own inequities, ones that are even more pernicious and more difficult to overcome.
1.15.2008 3:10pm
Mr. Liberal:

Is there really generous financial aid available for children of families making 150K? At many schools?


If you have a good reason to not be able to pay full tuition, then yeah.

If you have 5 kids in college at one time, that will be taken into consideration as well.

On the other hand, at that salary, you will be expected to contribute to the cost as well.

Harvard's financial aid is a good example:


Families with incomes above $120,000 and below $180,000 and with assets typical for these income levels will be asked to pay 10 percent of their incomes. For those with incomes below $120,000, the family contribution percentage will decline steadily from 10 percent, reaching zero for those with incomes at $60,000 and below.
1.15.2008 3:30pm
Mr. Liberal:

Also, while I am not an expert on libertarianism nor even a libertarian myself, I don't think Milton Friedman would say that it doesn't or shouldn't matter who your parents are.


Then libertarians are even morally more culpable than I thought. It is one thing to think that people can "make it" if left alone, and oppose policies to increase their educational opportunities, access to jobs, and access to health care on those grounds. But to think that people cannot "make it" because of things they have no control over (i.e. who their parents are) but still oppose policies to ensure that they have opportunities to access these things is even more repugnant.

Oh wait. I guess there is always the argument that increasing access to education, job training, and health care will only be "doomed to failure" and create "inequities" that even "more pernicious."

I fail to see the "inequities" that have arisen from the creation of our system of public education that are even "more pernicious" than the alternative of massive numbers of people never getting any education whatsoever. Further, there is no reason to believe that public education is "doomed to failure" compared to the alternative of massive number of people never getting any education whatsoever, based on who their parents are.

I suppose, in a libertarian utopia, we would just do away with those "paternalistic" child labor laws (which I suppose are also "pernicious" and "doomed to failure") along with the "pernicious" systems of public education that take up the time of children better off working in factories. =)
1.15.2008 3:51pm
frankcross (mail):
Harvard's financial aid is totally unrepresentative. It's vastly more generous. Maybe they can't get into/don't want to go to Harvard.

I hypothesize that you really don't know about the financial aid available to a parent with 165K and multiple kids. Do you have experience or data to support your position? Not just assertion.
1.15.2008 4:43pm
unwelcome guest:
Mr. Liberal, I think even libertarians agree that child labor laws and police and public education are good things :) (Although I have heard some say that child labor is helping to raise the standards of living in China, as presumably it did here?). What Friedman said about education is that people should be able to use vouchers to send their kids to private school - that vouchers benefit the poor above all. If you take into consideration how difficult it is to afford housing in the good public school districts, and that poor people often get better education from the parochial schools than the public ones.

Why are you so angry about a libertarian judge quitting? You, of all people, should be happy about this.
1.15.2008 5:03pm
frankcross (mail):
Actually, child labor laws can be bad things. When imposed in Thailand, they resulted in a shift to illegal child labor in prostitution. In other countries, they result in a shift from workplace labor to home farm labor, which is actually much more onerous.

The market transitions out of child labor, as families get more wealthy. I think a properly timed law can facilitate this shift; some families can be abusive.
1.15.2008 5:29pm
Mr. Liberal:
unwelcome guest,

I actually like a few of the ideas of Milton Friedman. I think vouchers are an idea that should be given a chance. I also think that his minimum income (i.e. negative income tax) idea should be given a chance.

Recognizing vouchers and especially a negative income tax goes against libertarian dogma, which would suggest that the taxes needed to finance them are a form of theft.

Of course, the degree to which libertarians adhere to their dogma varies. I have less of a bone to pick with consequentist libertarians, like Milton Friedman, who are not as dogmatic, but instead choose to adopt libertarian dogma as flawed rules of thumb that they will relax in particular contexts.

Of course, the flexibility that consequentialist libertarians take with their rules of thumb varies considerably. Obviously, I think the rules of thumb adopted by consequentialist libertarians should be done away with completely and I prefer more flexibility and willingness to make exceptions to less.

I respect consequentialist libertarians, even though I think they have chosen the wrong rules of thumb. But I definitely abhor their more dogmatic brethren, who are willing to sacrifice way too much at the alter of their ideology.
1.15.2008 6:32pm
SenatorX (mail):
Sigh, ok from now on I won't feel the troll.

On a kind of similar note to this thread in my city/town of Gainesville, FL parents are in a rage because the local government is talking about changing all the school districts because they "are worried about people of different classes and races not mixing". Nice eh?

Yet another reason not to buy a house yet!
1.15.2008 7:29pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Professor Kerr writes:


I believe Cassell's resignation letter focuses on pursing pro bono work and returning to more intellectual pursuits as the main reason for leaving. Are those reasons also "lame" in your opinion?


I recently watched an oral argument in which one attorney's argument focused on some very plausible legal arguments, but he included one argument that was so boneheaded that that's the argument he will be remembered for. Cassell's assertion that he was having trouble "mak[ing] financial plans" because of the "uncertainty" of a lifetime guaranteed $165K-a-year-salary was just that boneheaded. "Lame" if you prefer.

Did Cassell not notice that his kids were approaching college age? Didn't he have 18 years of warning? Did he fail to save? Did he live so far above his means that he couldn't save? How is a guaranteed-for-life salary in any way "uncertain"?

To say that he had "difficult[y]" "mak[ing] financial plans" on a guaranteed $165K a year shows he is either dishonest or one of the world's worst money managers.

Cassell was probably the highest paid person in his courthouse, and he was whining about making ends meet. He may have other admirable qualities, but he deserves the derision he's received.
1.15.2008 8:09pm
frankcross (mail):
I just don't see how you can be so judgmental about a fellow, without knowing the specifics of his situation.

Suppose his children want to go to, say, Amherst. Thats' about $45,000 per year. Other private schools are similar. Times 5, that would be $180,000 annualized. A total of perhaps $900,000. Now, I suppose one could theoretically finance that on $165,000/year with advance planning, but it would take considerable sacrifice. Or he could send them to a state school for less money, but perhaps he doesn't want to. And of course you have no knowledge of how he has spent his money, or his other needs. Yet you feel free to criticize him. That seems quite illiberal to me.

The man is not claiming poverty, simply that the salary of a federal judge does not permit him to give his family the life he wishes to give them. A person living on $2/day in China would doubtless think you were horribly profligate. But I wouldn't agree with them either.
1.15.2008 11:01pm
Public_Defender (mail):

I just don't see how you can be so judgmental about a fellow, without knowing the specifics of his situation.


He was probably the highest paid person in that courthouse, and he whined about pay. When he left, he whined only that other people with the highest pay in their courthouses also needed a pay raise. Nary a word about the people in his own courthouse--many who worked for him--who faced the same problems with a salary only a small fraction of his own.

How would his former staff and every other person working at his courthouse out three kids through college? Is the ability to pay for three kids to attend Amherst at the same time out of current income Cassell's standard for federal pay?

Look, John Roberts misrepresentations notwithstanding, there is minuscule turnover in the federal judiciary, and any argument that turnover justifies a pay increase would mean that the federal judicial pay should be cut and massive raises should be given at pretty much every other level of the government lawyer system. Ask your local prosecutor about turnover among the staff making life and death decisions in your town.

There is no shortage of qualified applicants for federal judgeships. I bet every lawyer reading this could spin off a decent list of state court judges from both parties who would make excellent federal judges and who would enjoy moving to the top of the government lawyer salary hierarchy. Once on the job, federal judges tend to stay for a long time.

Some former big firm lawyers take the job, and they do so in far greater numbers than lawyers from other practices, so they are over-represented, if anything.


The man is not claiming poverty, simply that the salary of a federal judge does not permit him to give his family the life he wishes to give them.


If he had simply said, "I wanted even more money," it would have been harder to criticize him. But instead, he argued that the highest pay in the courthouse was putting a strain on his finances. How does he think the people in the courthouse living on 1/4 of his pay would handle the same problems?


And of course you have no knowledge of how he has spent his money, or his other needs. Yet you feel free to criticize him. That seems quite illiberal to me.


Cassell chose to make his family's personal finances an issue of public concern. He argued that his family's financial situation was evidence of the need to raise the pay of the some of the highest paid government lawyers in the country. If had had "other needs" that justified his position, he should say so.

If Cassell didn't want people to discuss his family's finances, he shouldn't have thrust them into the public debate.
1.16.2008 6:14am
frankcross (mail):
Well, you've fallen into the comparativist trap. Everyone's in America is richer than people in the developing world, so by your theory, no American should ever complain about their salary. How does that make the Africans feel?

He did simply say: "I wanted even more money." That was the substance of his comment.
1.16.2008 10:49am
Public_Defender (mail):

Well, you've fallen into the comparativist trap.


I guess I just followed Chief Justice John Roberts there. He argued that judges deserve more pay based, in part, on the pay of law professors. I point out that Cassell and his fellow judges are at the top of the government lawyer pay scale.


He did simply say: "I wanted even more money." That was the substance of his comment.


No, he did not "simply say" "I wanted even more money." He complained that the pay was a financial hardship. He said that his pay (a guaranteed-for-life $165K a year) made it "difficult[]" to plan for college.

And if his message was simply, "I wanted even more money," he wouldn't have used an entire paragraph to say what five words could have said.
1.17.2008 5:51am