Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Judge Beverly Cutler, Part 3

This is a continuation of the interview with Judge Beverly Cutler on January 25, 2012 by Karen Brewster and Margaret Russell at her home in Palmer, Alaska. In this part of the interview, Judge Cutler talks about working with other judges, difficult cases and decisions, community invovlement of judges, substance abuse in cases, her contributions to Alaska's legal system,and being a role model for other women.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2012-02-04_PT.3

Project: Judges of Alaska
Date of Interview: Jan 25, 2012
Narrator(s): Judge Beverly Cutler
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Margaret Russell
Videographer: Karen Brewster
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Alaska State Library, Institute of Museum and Library Services
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.

Sections

Conferring with other judges

Improvements in communication, like with email

Ethical dilemma of consulting other judges

Effects of improved technology

Making the right decision

Deciding child custody cases

Changes in the Matanuska-Susitna valley and the court system

Role of alcohol and drugs in court cases

Importance of judges living in the community

Decision to retire

Not becoming a workaholic

Legacy from her years as a judge

Being a role model for other women in the legal profession

Influence of women in the court room

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.

Transcript

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Margaret, you had a question.

MARGARET RUSSELL: I wanted to go back again, you were talking about some of the mental strain and the wrestling that you do with yourself on some of these difficult cases, whether they're the analytically difficult ones

that you're hoping will be upheld on appeal or the sentencing cases that are particularly emotionally difficult, perhaps.

Can you vet some of that thinking with other judges?

I mean what -- what did -- how does that happen, especially when you're out here alone to start with, but even now?

BEVERLY CUTLER: Well, that is something that really changed over the twenty-seven or eight years I wrote law that I was on the court in Palmer.

Basically the five years I was in Anchorage,

I was in a multi-judge court and I really did feel like I could have gone to Alex Bryner and asked him anything, if he was there, except like I said,

I came in September and he left in November, so even, you know.

I do think judges do consult with each other.

Usually, you find not one bosom buddy judge that you consult with on everything, but usually, especially once you have a lot of experience on the bench or with your judiciary,

even statewide, because we have conferences that we go to and meet each other and stuff.

Depending on what the issue is you call a certain judge.

Like there are certain types of criminal things I know exactly which five judges in the state I would want to go to first.

Or it might even be something like, well, have you ever been asked to do a jury view and,

you know, would you do a jury view in this kind of case or would you just say, no, it's, you know, maybe it's going to cause a mistrial because of, you know, what are the pros and cons?

There are certain judges that you just really respect how they keep up with every, you know, Ninth Circuit and US Supreme Court cases.

And so you're thinking is there anything -- am I missing something. Is there something new that's been decided that, you know, or you just really respect the way they think.

But what I was going to say is it's changed so much from the years of being isolated, because there's so much shooting from the hip we do.

I mean it's one thing if you know the sentencing is tomorrow and you took the briefs home and read them, and you have time at eight o’clock the next morning

to walk into some judge’s office and say I'm just curious have you ever had a triple murder with blah, blah, blah, but -- Is email.

And email opened up this whole incredible new way of instantly even while you were on the bench, whether you were emailing a judge down the hall, emailing a judge in Anchorage or Fairbanks and sometimes --

I would never do a broadcast email to the whole judiciary, but I might do the same email to six judges,

say I’m on the third day of trial and the defendant had his appendix out.

One side wants a mistrial.

I’ve got this witness here from Seattle, would you bring a guy into court two days after he had his appendix out and just let him sit there.

I mean, you know, he might be, you know, come in with a nurse, would you at least let this person testify and, you know, very --

I got an hour to decide this and, you know, you'd probably hear back from three people. They might all say the same thing.

They might not, but it's just been incredible and i's -- to me has really made for better quality decision making because you actually --

you have a lot more choices in trying to get a little guidance very quickly or on whatever time line you have because communications have gotten so much better.

The fact that we're always warned email isn’t private, blah, blah, blah and it worries me a little bit, but if you keep your question really clean.

I mean there's no reason you can’t consult with other judges.

There's an interesting little ethical dilemma for some people in Alaska, because of our preemptory challenge rule

where judges can be preempted from cases.

I actually believe that you shouldn’t consult with a judge who was preempted from the case about what he or she would do because those parties should not be --

I mean if they basically said I don’t want him having to do anything with my case.

And so if I've been preempted from a case and a judge starts asking me questions about it -- sometimes we're on the third question and I'll say you know, you sure I wasn’t preempted from that case?

It's beginning to sound familiar. Oh, that doesn’t matter. I say, well, you know, I'm not going to erase what we've said, but, you know, I just think I shouldn’t --

let’s just end the conversation, because I just wouldn’t them to think that you were somehow messing with the case when they had preempted you, but that's an aside.

On the issue of being as lonely out there and deciding things.

It's much better than it was and it almost was enough to want to stay in the job a little bit longer, because the newer communication systems as well as,

you know, it's so much easier to get out a written decision now because, you know, we all have these word processors and printers. And,

you know, it's really easier to run the business of the court.

You can just in a flash look at everyone else’s calendar, see what they're doing.

You can practically -- and pretty soon they'll probably have closed circuit, you know, TV’s and everything. But

somebody said to me it's kind of like, you know, they make the paper diapers with the elastic better and better, and they make this all sorts of pumps for nursing moms,

but it's the still the same old thing if you have a baby.

So, you know, usually at some point you're willing to move on from --

MARGARET RUSSELL: But you can write test your decision quicker? I mean what you were talking about before, you can --

BEVERLY CUTLER: Yes. MARGARET RUSSELL: You can put it in the computer and --

BEVERLY CUTLER: Absolutely. MARGARET RUSSELL: And test out your --

BEVERLY CUTLER: And you really -- you can be a better judge.

You can do a much more impressive job in writing, because you have way more tools and you actually --

in our judiciary, I mean I think our Alaska judiciary is by and large wonderful,

but then I served with so many judges who I feel were appointed by very wonderful governors.

You know, I served with a lot of Knowles and Hammond and Cowper appointees.

Not that the other appointees haven’t been pretty descent.

I mean, I think we really do have a pretty good judiciary, but we get judicial education.

Now you can look up things.

I mean you couldn’t, you know, on the Internet.

You know you can do four words and, you know, maybe find a case more quickly that deals with something closer.

You still can’t always find the right answer, because a lot of times there is no right answer.

There are several respectable calls you could make with those facts and the existing law.

And you still have to pick one. And I mean a really good example of those,

and we haven’t talked about these much because you keep bringing up sentencing, which I understand why, but for some reason that I got passed along maybe in my first decade of work.

Too much angst over that, but the custody cases and, of course, the termination cases because those are, you know, these are,

you know, the custody of children when parents have split up or even if they've been split up for years, but somebody wants to, you know, modify or change you know again do any of us have right answers for --

there're a whole lot of acceptable choices, but, you know, it's a --

I actually -- the work that I've gone back subbing for I have basically said to myself I go back and do a criminal case

almost every time out of choice rather than a civil case particularly a custody or divorce case.

Although, I'm sure I'm going to do and I'm in the middle of a couple right now for this guy I am helping out in Palmer, but,

you know, there just aren’t always an answer.

In the criminal case, the jury makes the decision and you impose the sentence and your decision making is largely

what evidence should be admitted and there can be a lot of issues with that and how to, you know, regulate all the courtroom behavior,

including who to make sit on the jury, who is excused from the jury, you know, all these personal things.

But there's no formula.

There're all these criteria, but there's really no formula that we just plug all this custody stuff into and, of course, no one has a crystal ball and I think we're all troubled by --

I’m not going to say the current development of our youth, but the art or science of psychology is so advanced now that we can get so carried away

with our notions of how children should be raised and who should be doing the influence and what the various motivators should be for children to basically become decent human beings and citizens.

Are we the Wizard of Oz? I mean, we're sort of asked to be the Wizard of Oz, you know,

and we all know that since we pull it down we're just one more person. And that

sometimes I think some of the things judges do

we've passed the time that judges should do them and they should be done by some other board or responsible entity in society and --

MARGARET RUSSELL: Who would be an example of that kind of question?

BEVERLY CUTLER: Child custody. I mean and many judges -- I feel perfectly well trained to do child custody and I feel perfectly well suited,

but I think a better decision would -- I mean we have a Workman’s Comp Board of what four or five people.

I mean I think if we had four or five people looking at all the same stuff, making the decision.

One of them is a teacher. One of them is, you know, a psychologist.

Maybe one of them's in the legal field and who knows, that --

And I also think it takes an incredible amount of time away from --

I guess it really depends what's on your plate as a judge.

I mean if you've got all sorts of things where you have to decide the legality of the tax scheme for something or you have to decide whether to throw out last week’s School Board election for some irregularity or not, you know, it does cut into that time.

And I guess you could say all things --

I sure wish that sentencing in certain cases was done more by a board and that the legislature had less control over, you know, the parameters.

But, of course, a lot of our law is,

you know, knee jerk response to -- and that whole thing we're taught in law school "bad facts make bad law."

And that's exactly what we get when, you know, we get a legislative reaction to something and then we get a law.

But I guess also, you know, if we get started too much on --

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I'll take --

BEVERLY CUTLER: The legislature and -- because that whole process is, you know.

KAREN BREWSTER: I'll bring us back to Palmer and, you know, you started in 1982 and retired in 2009?

BEVERLY CUTLER: Yes. And then I've just been going in part-time to -- like a substitute for judges. KAREN BREWSTER: And that --

BEVERLY CUTLER: Knee surgeries and things.

KAREN BREWSTER: How things out here in the valley have changed in that time period and how that's been reflected in the courts and the type of cases you have been hearing?

BEVERLY CUTLER: Well it is -- I mean it couldn’t be truer.

I mean just to think back, you know, to the Palmer world of 1982-83 when I came out here and what we,

you know, morphed into.

And what the valley's morphed, you know, it's just, of course, I guess that's the story of Alaska in a lot of ways. But

the valley has certainly become much more suburban, way more sophisticated, which is great.

We've seen changes even in the religions.

I mean now we've got Mormon churches everywhere out here that we didn’t have.

Next to every -- every big high school has a Mormon church.

A huge Mormon population. Those big families, you know, hard working, you know.

We're still incredibly a white society out here.

We are like the whitest part of the country as far as I can tell.

In fact, that was another reason I was really glad to have my kids go to boarding schools when they wanted to because they learned that it is not normal to be in

seventh grade at Colony Middle School with 297 white kids, two black kids, and one Native.

That that is not the United States of America, you know.

But that was their world when they went there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Have these changes been reflected in Palmer?

BEVERLY CUTLER: Right, that we have, of course, we have more schools and more things and, you know, our college is better.

Talis is, of course, we just -- I just think it's wonderful that he's president of the college.

I mean what a quality person to have in charge of your local education even if, you know, it's not really traditional high, you know, real high level history and English literature and all that kind of education.

There's some there, but it's not predominantly what the community college is.

And our people are just -- they're way more middle class suburban people than the sort of

old, crusty old trappers and, you know, fur traders living on the edge of civilization.

All the subdivisions, you know, most kids lead a very -- it's like they live in a, you know, town of 20,000 in the middle of Kansas somewhere.

You know they lead a very normal, seemingly, you know, normal American life.

We do have quite a few military family people settle out here because cost of living's a little lower.

So we have kind of, you know, kind of like Kenai.

People are sort of gun and hunting oriented.

The valley has gone from being Democrat to way Republican.

I've never had any trouble finding a great group of 10 women to do a book club. I've never started a book club, but, you know, I've joined in with others when they formed. They're fabulous thinking individuals.

I'm sure that is true of the men too, you know, in their university.

There're very few jobs out here for our young people

that have a university education unless they go into teaching.

There're almost none.

My kids all struggled with that because there're just, you know, there really are not jobs for college educated people in Wasilla and Palmer much other than teaching.

There're a few, but nothing like the volume you're going to find in Anchorage.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you find that alcohol and drugs started playing an increasing role in the cases you dealt with?

BEVERLY CUTLER: It seems like they always have and they always will.

And I actually don’t see that, you know, the drugs change, you know.

Alcohol isn’t I mean different, you know, different issues come up with alcohol.

I would not say that any of that's significantly different, you know.

Maybe, you know, certainly 30 years ago the eighth graders probably didn’t have pills at their parties and maybe now they do,

but they had something, but, you know, somebody was abusing.

I think in the court what was see and this really troubles me,

but I have to grow up and I have to move on and I feel good saying it and not that anyone is ever going to listen to this, but I feel like it's part of acknowledging, you know,

the world is only yours for a short period of time and then you move on or it changes.

Just like your neighborhood, you go back to old neighborhood and your house isn’t going to be sitting there like it was in 1953 surrounded just by those houses and those trees.

But, we have eight judges in Palmer. We have four superior court judges.

I was the only one that lived in Palmer when I left.

The guy who replaced me lived in Palmer.

Two live in Anchorage.

One lives in Eagle River. The one who lives in Eagle River moved closer to Anchorage. He now lives on the Anchorage side of Eagle River.

He used to live on this side of Eagle River.

Nobody seems to care.

I think it's bad.

I really don’t like that.

No one is ever going to make the move.

It's not thought to be as important.

I mean I think the -- they all said they would move when they got the job, but they all have, you know, like a husband in private practice in Anchorage or kids in school or whatever.

But we don’t have that real sense of we're all -- but they're very devoted to the court work during the day.

It's just can’t ever be the same as living in the community.

The district court judges all live in the valley somewhere, Wasilla or Palmer.

But when we got our district court judge, our second district court judge originally,

she lived in Anchorage and never moved out here either.

So that's a real, you know, it's like we are not quite swallowed up into Anchorage yet, but I do think -- I think even our -- I don’t think our court staff are unhappy.

They're very good people. They are good judges.

They are smart men and women and very hard working.

I just think they think it's sort of weird that they never move out and become part of the community because, you know, in the old days that was important.

But that's like going to college now and saying, you know, my professor at Carnegie Mellon lives in Palmer.

And I see him on the TV and he comes and we see him a couple times year for real, but the world is different now, right?

I mean you could actually be a professor at Carnegie Mellon and live in Palmer, Alaska, because we have one in case you didn’t know that.

KAREN BREWSTER: Why did you decide to retire?

BEVERLY CUTLER: That's a really fair question.

And I think the truthful answer, I think it has maybe three parts.

One is I kind of sort of wanted to have more free time and less stress.

But I really, really loved the job. And as the kids were growing up and moving on in life you can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel when you can see that you really could have --

you could still keep the job and have less stress and a little more time.

The second reason, which may be the most determining reason, was that two or three years

before I retired I promised my husband that I would retire.

And I kept my promise.

And it wasn’t that he's a baby and he needs me to do that.

And it wasn’t that I didn’t have an independent mind or anything.

It was partly, you know, with as many years as I had and everything,

once you turn 60 and you get your full retirement you basically get 75% of your salary without even going to work.

So are you so -- you would just have to have the job and have to be the judge that you're really going to do that every day for just the extra $40,000.

I mean you're essentially working all year for $45,000 or $40,000 or something and the salary changes a little bit now and then.

I felt when I said oh, yeah, I'm definitely going to retire when I’m 60 I meant it.

And then the closer I got to 60, I thought I still feel totally at the top of my game, you know and you don’t really need to retire and all of that, but I really wanted to --

I wanted to keep my promise to him.

But thirdly and I think it's equally important. I'm just not sure I would have

really, you know, once you make a promise if you are person of your promises, it is nice to keep them.

And we've now been married 13 years, I think, and it wasn’t a big deal to him.

He's been a retired -- he's retired two or three times, so I think -- and he pretty much runs the farm.

He's over working in the potato farm.

He loves to work every day, but, you know, the idea that we could just go to Arizona for three weeks without having to take cases with us or,

you know, that well I thought I could get the three weeks off but so and so has to have hip surgery so I can only have 10 days off because,

you know, blah, blah, blah.

Or worse, it's just the big case.

You plan to take the time off, but you're in the middle of all these big cases and can’t stop.

But the third reason and I am really glad about this one, but,

you know, I just -- And I was saying this to Margaret earlier and I know it may sound like -- I just really wanted to spend more time at home.

And maybe part of that is, you know, I think I've described after being in the limelight all the time in the job.

And you're not really in the limelight. Palmer, Alaska is a little lake in a little pond, but, you know, every day people are looking at you and you're always dealing with people and you're always trying to be right on.

You know, it's just nice to get away from that.

I mean I think we all love -- I mean kids actually love it if you just let them get on the couch with a book and read it and aren’t always saying, "Well, do you want to play Uncle Wiggly next?"

"Do you want to change your dress?" "Do you want to have some soup?"

I mean don’t we all sort of love -- I mean we think we love attention, but we actually love no attention.

And just being able to be in the moment.

And I think that is one thing I really do feel not deprived of but that I missed.

And I wanted more of and I'm now getting more of and that is just,

you know, a little time at home.

And, of course, everyone I guess if you've lived a place a long time you feel nostalgia for your place, but,

you know, it's nice to look out the windows.

Fortunately, neither my husband or I -- we're not sick yet.

No one's dealing with real, you know -- But like if I knew that you could have 25 years of this,

I might have waited another five years, but you might only have 25 more days before you find out you have, you know.

I know that I don’t mean to sound morose, but I really --

I think that one thing where you just constantly, you know, you work really hard in high school.

You probably worked hard in grade school if that's how you were raised.

You know you always did your homework. Your parents looked at your report cards.

You know you went right into college and right into law school and I -- mean fortunately.

And I know I said this to one of my kids and she just couldn’t believe it. I said, no

I never took a week off between jobs.

I just went from -- I went -- in fact, I left law school early to take this job that they wanted someone to start April 1st and I thought I really want the job.

He knows I won’t be there until -- he knows I have to graduate, but, you know, I sort of talked myself into that and

just literally went from one to the next, partly because

just financially I couldn’t afford to be without an income.

You know, some people could take time off and that's not a consideration, and it really wasn’t for me, but you never -- you're so --

at least I really absolutely loved having the kids.

I wouldn't not have any of the kids for all the tea in China, but, you know, you really are

very busy with your kids those years and your

Saturday morning running off to eight a.m. basketball games and

you know, this and that and

I guess that's the life you choose and the world I chose, but

maybe as you get older you get a little more comfortable too just staying home with yourself.

And I guess this darn Internet and these darn laptops we're totally connected.

You're not lonely at home.

You're connected -- you know, you're looking all the time at all this. Whether it's your former law clerks on Facebook or you know whatever.

And you feel totally connected to the world and, of course, you know, we're not on an island. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

BEVERLY CUTLER: I can drive to the Alaska Club and stuff and I have probably read maybe 50 or 60 books since I retired and I've just loved that.

And they've just -- really helped me remind myself of how we're all human.

We're all here for ten seconds in the grand scheme of things.

We're all coming to dust, you know.

We're all nothing really and all of the problems that we think are so important are --

I mean they are important when they're in front of you, of course, but,

you know, I probably, you know, you read briefs and I read parenting articles.

Because, of course, as a woman you think, you know, you don’t know what to do.

You always need to directions. You want someone else to guide you.

So when you have kids, especially you don't have any until you're 30, you think I don’t know the first thing about kids.

So, you know, try to catch up with that and so I really feel like it is --

the greatest has been having, you know, having a legal career and having children and all that stuff.

You know, you're always -- I don’t mean to sound cynical and say you're always missing something when you're doing something else,

but life is all of these choices.

It's like when you go to a restaurant, you can’t have three entrees, you know.

You have to, you know, I mean even if you could afford them, you probably eat them, right?

And, you know, I really -- it's interesting that some of my Alaska judge heroes were people like Jay Rabinowitz.

I'm sure was everyone’s hero, but, you know, Jay worked his whole life.

He went until 70, just like Matthews did. Just loved it.

I mean that was their life and my dad, he just worked until he couldn’t.

I mean he worked until he was 86.

His secretaries were still coming over and reading him emails and stuff.

And I know that I could do that.

And I guess -- and in some ways I would pride myself on doing that. I mean I think all of us think, oh, gee, you know you would be the longest sitting judge and they’d say, you know, you'd been a judge for 57 years.

I mean how many people are going to start at 27, you know.

But, you know, I'm really glad I didn’t let that get to me and let that make me stay in the job just so you could say you sat on the Alaska bench longer than anybody else.

That seemed like a really stupid reason, and also -- And I’m being very truthful.

Things do change.

I love the court we set up. I love our new judges.

I love and I really do respect them, but, you know, the court with eight judges is not the same court as it was with one.

And it's not because it's not my party anymore or anything like that.

It's more just, you know, some of the headaches of keeping eight judges happy and balancing everything.

I mean I'm sure principals feel like that.

How many teachers they have that they have to, you know, it might just be nice to --

I just go back and just be a substitute teacher and go in there and substitute teach, you know.

I'll go for four weeks when someone's having surgery and do third grade and it'll be great, but I won’t have to run the whole school anymore.

And I really, you know, I think I would might feel completely different if you had to completely go cold turkey,

but, you know, we really have this wonderful --

And some judges don’t do any of it, some of are completely done, some probably do too much.

They retired after five years and they've been subbing for 15 years,

and you start, you know, where the balance should be with that too, but

it is almost just a perfect, perfect opportunity.

It was almost too good not to take to be able to say, you know, you give up your big fancy chambers that are all yours

and having your own law clerk.

You know, I had like 35 law clerks.

They're wonderful. They're like my nieces and nephews, so if I don’t have a 37th and a 38th, it would be okay, you know, and --

KAREN BREWSTER: Have you thought --

BEVERLY CUTLER: I'm just really glad I learned personally how to maybe be sort of less important.

I know that sounds terrible but it is kind of good to learn.

I mean, I guess like even mothers I think have to learn this.

They have to learn you got to be a mom, now you're not a mom anymore.

Your daughter might be a mom and you're the grandma, but it's her turn and personally that suits me.

I know lots of mothers and I'm lucky, you know, I got to have four kids so I had OD'd, you know.

KAREN BREWSTER: Last question.

Relates to all this about sort of your legacy or major accomplishments, something you've left behind with the Alaska Judicial System.

Anything that comes to mind?

BEVERLY CUTLER: Well, I don’t know about the Alaska Judicial System and I mentioned this to Margaret maybe an hour ago.

I said, you know, really would like --

I mean I think our legal system is very much a system.

It may be that the judges are the judges and the lawyers are the lawyers, but there are a whole lot more lawyers

and no judge is just there on his or her own without that whole system,

which includes the lawyers and the profession and all the people with all the problems, you know.

But personally I think what has been the most meaningful or maybe not the most meaningful.

On a social level what's been really -- has been meaningful is just watching the young lawyers

come through the ranks, many of whom are female, not just the young public defenders, young DA’s too and just, you know, and just sort of that part of seeing the next generation,

even the generation after that come along, being a part of it, feeling that -- in some ways you realize oh, my God, you're 62.

They're looking at you the way you used to look at X, you know, in the sense of how

mature and grown up or knowledgeable that person used to seem.

We really did have -- I really -- this tradition has kind of fallen apart for about the middle 20 years of the years I've been here.

I tried to organize a MatSu valley women lawyer’s dinner once a year.

And they were just great and we really did them because the young women, you know, they would bring their babies and it was just so great for them having a woman judge.

And usually we'd just meet at a restaurant because I live so far away, but, you know, it was kind of fun being able to

work a little bit with the young women and see your life going around again.

I really was -- I really -- there were a couple of younger women lawyers that I would have loved to have seen get my job when I left.

And I kind of didn’t want to leave until that could happen and then I decided that was a stupid reason.

And I knew Palin wasn’t going to appoint them anyway so there was no point in,

you know, but I would have loved -- that would have been a perfect circle to me to leave that.

KAREN BREWSTER: Just sort of being a role model for other women is kind of what you're saying?

BEVERLY CUTLER: I guess, yes, but it's more -- not -- I mean I guess that's --

KAREN BREWSTER: Mentoring them or --

BEVERLY CUTLER: Yeah, but just sort of the joy of seeing the system continue.

And seeing the new people come into and

learning from them as well as seeing history repeat itself.

And then I really do think -- and this is something I mean -- we have two other women judges in Palmer now, so I can look at each of their styles.

And then we had another one who was a district court judge for a short time.

And if there's anything you do leave, I guess you hope -- or at least I would hope that you leave

some sort of example, or tradition, or whatever you want to call it of

listening fairly and with an open mind but not without a brain in your head so that, you know, you're not just swallowing everything that people want to throw out there.

And moving things along at the same time.

And finding some way to basically -- we used to call it massaging each case to its ultimate resting place because,

you know, we're only in this business because there's some --

generally anyway, because there is some dispute or controversy out there and everyone needs to go on.

I mean just like, you know, anything at some point you can only stay in the decision making process for so long and then you --

it's either dress A or dress B or I'm going to wear my old dress to the wedding, and they're both going back on the rack because I don’t like either one, you know.

So I really do think that many of our women -- and I haven’t mentioned we have a National Women Judges organization, but it's just been --

it's like, you know, the private school for a girl -- for women judges in the sense of, you know, it's just been an incredible organization just meeting incredible people, but I think

most of us feel that even if we're trying to act like the men and make, you know, really good decisions and know the law really well,

we are also trying to be very judgelike.

Be patient and civil and good listeners, but also sort of try to be kind and gentle.

And try at the same time to move things along.

I mean you have to be really efficient, but you have to give people a feeling that --

I mean it must be an incredible art for a cancer nurse to be able to give a patient a feeling of not having cancer isn’t so bad because the nurse is really nice,

but, you know, some way of, you know, I don’t want to be here.

I don’t like what's happening to me,

but at least this person is being kind and understanding and trying to understand my problem in trying to help me cope and I at least feel they help me cope.

I think maybe the biggest number of cases in which I would get a compliment later from somebody that would be really meaningful,

and sometimes it's 10 or 20 years later is when they say, you know, I've just never forgotten.

I never had a chance to tell you this, but I just --

it was so neat the way you helped my sister and brother-in-law through their divorce.

I mean it was awful, but, you know, we think you did a really a good job, blah, blah, oh you know, they're just saying that,

but, you know, you're -- no one wants to get divorced but they're going to get divorced and no one's going to get it, you know,

but that that horrible process can at least get done.

People can go away thinking, you know, I hated everyone when I came in here this morning, but at least the judge wasn’t so bad or,

you know, whatever it is. And I don’t know if that's fairness because I kept saying we're in the job of fairness. But, you know we --

KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like --

BEVERLY CUTLER: It is something you want to -- you hope and I'm not saying men don’t do that at all, of course they do.

We would say good modern judges should try to do that, but to me it is important.

It would be much more important to be remembered for doing that on a regular basis then

for, you know, handling the Captain Joseph Hazelwood case or something like that, you know, if that was

the only reason that people knew your name, it seems to me that it's just a DUI in a boat, right, you know.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it sounds like what you're saying is adding a little bit of humanity to the courtroom experience.

Is that what you mean?

BEVERLY CUTLER: You know, I guess so.

And which, of course, it is a human system, right?

MARGARET RUSSELL: Being a civilizing influence? Civilizing influence that women would bring.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that was a wonderful statement, and a good place to end for me.

I don’t know if, Margaret you have anything? At least for today.

MARAGARET RUSSELL: That was perfect.

BEVERLY CUTLER: Oh, well I hope you enjoyed it. I --