The Salt Lake Tribune -- Letter to the Editor (Shurtleff reply to Gustin)
Sunday, January 20, 2002
I write to respond to Susanne Gustin's letter
attacking University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell
("Don't Confirm Cassell," Jan. 4). Ms. Gustin, speaking
as a representative of Utah's criminal defense bar,
opposes Professor Cassell's nomination to be a federal
district judge in Utah; as the attorney general of this
state, I support him.
Contrary to Ms. Gustin's allegation of "bias,"
Professor Cassell's conduct in the Weitzel case is an
example of good lawyering. Cassell donated his time to
represent the families of the victims whom Mr. Weitzel
is charged with having killed. Utah crime victims have
legal rights guaranteed by the Utah Constitution and the
Utah Rights of Crime Victims Act. They had a right to be
heard and Paul Cassell assured that right.
In the Weitzel case, after Judge W. Brent West
denied the prosecution's motion to disqualify Judge
Thomas L. Kay, my office appealed. Professor Cassell, on
the behalf of the victims' families, filed a "friend of
court" brief supporting our position, and the Utah Court
of Appeals ruled in our favor.
The Attorney General's Office has litigated with
Professor Cassell as our ally and with him as our
opponent. We have found that, like most criminal defense
attorneys, he is a zealous advocate for his client's
position. That he represents, and has been a voice for,
the victims of crime is a qualification, not a
disqualification, for service in the judicial branch.
I believe Paul Cassell will make an excellent
federal judge. I enthusiastically support his nomination
and believe that the overwhelming majority of Utahns,
were they aware of his character and credentials, would
join me in that support.
Utah Attorney General
Does anyone else see just how inappropriate this is?
© Copyright 2002, The Salt Lake Tribune
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