Vermont Judge Edward Cashman, who was vilified when he sentenced a sex offender to two months in jail, told the Associated Press that the case enabled him to remain firm in his belief that the sentence was legal and that sentences must be concerned with more than just punishment. “I think one of the risks a judge has to take is knowing that when you make a difficult decision it very well may be misunderstood,” he said. “And then comes the real hard part: You gotta remain quiet.” Cashman was berated by legislators, editorial writers, and cable news commentators for imposing the minimum sentence on Mark Hulett, who had been convicted for repeated sexual assaults on a young girl. The judge said the short sentence was the best way to get Hulett the sex offender treatment he needed.
State officials later changed a policy and allowed Hulett to get treatment while in prison, prompting Cashman to increase the sentence to a three-year minimum. “If there’s any lesson that would be applicable judiciary-wise, (it) is the print media will straighten it out,” Cashman said. “They will straighten it out given enough time, which is exactly what happened. And there was a big huge record for the public to take a look at. I feel very fortunate. I look at it as the highlight of my career.” The judicial conduct board ruled that the original sentence was legal and ethical.