Paul G. Cassell - a U.S. District judge in Utah who was a leader in declaring federal sentencing mandates unconstitutional - is resigning after just five years on the bench, the Deseret Morning News reported.
Cassell served previously as a law clerk for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in the 1980s and as an associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. Cassell will resign in November to return to teaching law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, where he was a law professor for a decade before becoming a federal judge.
Cassell said he wants to pursue research on the rights of crime victims in his resignation letter last Friday to President George W. Bush, who nominated Cassell for the judgeship in 2001. "We're at a pivotal point in our country's history in determining how we're going to move from a two-party, state-versus-defendant model to a three-party model that recognizes the legitimate interests of victims," Cassell said.
Cassell, who earned $165,200 a year, also cited the low pay of federal judges as another reason for leaving the bench, an issue that is reverbrating in the lower courts, the Supreme Court and before Congress.