Salt Lake prosecutor joins Summit County Attorney’s Office
Summit County has hired a new prosecutor to join the county attorney’s office to replace Matt Bates, who recently stepped down to become the newest judge for the Third Judicial District Court.
Veteran Salt Lake prosecutor Patricia Cassell, 53, is scheduled to start working with the county on Wednesday. Bates left earlier this month after serving as chief prosecutor for more than five years. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Gary Herbert in May to succeed retiring Judge Charlene Barlow.
In an interview with The Park Record, Cassell said she doesn’t anticipate that her position in Summit County will differ greatly from her role in Salt Lake, where she supervised several attorneys and led the domestic violence division.
“I think it will be pretty much the same,” Cassell said. “The congeniality within the office will change, but I am looking forward to that very much.”
Cassell will be responsible for handling the prosecution on a variety of cases that come through the attorney’s office, including white-collar and property crimes. Cassell said she has dealt with a variety of cases throughout her practice that have involved homicide, juveniles and domestic violence.
“I don’t think that will change that much, except there will probably be fewer cases,” Cassell said. “Salt Lake just has so much more crime. I think in Summit County right now there is one outstanding homicide case. In our office there is probably 20 and as of last week I had three of them. There will still be the same type of cases, just less of them.”
Cassell said she will have to adjust to the size of the office in Summit County. She said the smaller office will give her more of an opportunity to get to know fellow prosecutors and officers in the sheriff’s department
“I think being in a smaller office gives a prosecutor more access to and a better relationship to the police department and sheriff’s office they work with. I mean the size of the office itself leads to a better relationship with the attorneys,” Cassell said.
For more than a decade, Cassell has been working as the assistant administrator in the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. Prior to that, she worked as a prosecutor in the Sandy City Attorney’s Office. Cassell, originally from Boise, Idaho, graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1990.
Once in Summit County, Cassell said she will become involved with the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Act and the county’s drug court program. In Salt Lake, Cassell said she was also heavily involved in the mental health and juvenile court systems.
“I have a definite interest in and experience with the alternative courts so I will be very active in that and I look forward to continuing that work,” Cassell said. “For me, it’s more about seeing what needs to be done and find out where I can get involved to help out the most.”
As for her philosophy on prosecution, Cassell said “I am fair,” adding that she would not like to describe herself as lenient or strict.
“I wouldn’t want to characterize myself as one way or the other because each case is different,” Cassell said. “I have to look at each case on a case-by-case basis and my job as a prosecutor is to be fair. My job is to make sure that I am treating victims and witnesses with respect and taking into account all sorts of situations and making sure whatever decision I make is a fair one.”
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A new county public health order that went into effect Friday adopts Gov. Gary Herbert’s guidelines for the low-risk level of the coronavirus response.