Judge Edward Cashman to retire

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(Host) Judge Edward Cashman, whose initial sentencing of a convicted sex offender last winter set off a storm of protest, has decided not to seek another term on the bench.

This means Cashman will retire from the Vermont Judiciary next April.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) In January, Cashman sentenced Mark Hullett, who had been convicted of repeatedly sexually assaulting a young child, to a 60-day to 10-year sentence.

Cashman says he handed down this original sentence in large part because he wanted Hulett to enter a sex offenders treatment program. Because the Vermont Corrections Department had classified Hulett as a low risk – state policy prohibited Hulett from getting treatment in jail.

The sentence was strongly criticized by Governor Jim Douglas and a group of lawmakers sought to remove Cashman from the bench. The case also drew national attention as a number of conservative cable TV hosts accused Cashman of “coddling pedophiles.”

Later when the Corrections Department changed its policies to allow low-risk offenders to get treatment in prison, Cashman imposed a three-year minimum sentence on Hulett.

Every six years, judges in Vermont face a legislative review. Cashman was due to be evaluated this coming winter.

In a letter to Chief Justice Paul Reiber, Cashman said the prospect of another six years of “intense effort and attention needed to properly perform this function may exact a cost my family and I are no longer willing to pay.”

Senate Judiciary chairman Dick Sears says he believes the retention hearings would have been very contentious and he thinks Cashman made the right decision to retire:

(Sears) “Given the level of scrutiny he’d be under given the Hulett decision and I think that he’s had a good career been a good jurist over that years and one case doesn’t always make the difference but in this case it certainly could have.”

Essex Orleans senator Vincent Illuzzi, who also serves as a state’s attorney, thinks Cashman should be praised for getting the Corrections Department to change its sex offenders treatment policies:

(Illuzzi) “Judge Cashman did nothing wrong. Judge Cashman did everything right in his limited position of presiding over cases that were brought to his attention. He highlighted and identified a serious flaw in the programs available for convicted sex offenders and he brought about positive constructive change. How can I do anything but praise him ?”

Cashman was first appointed to the Judiciary by former Governor Richard Snelling in 1982.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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