Guy Dutcher ’87 reflects on liberal arts education

Circuit Court Judge Guy Dutcher ’87 of Wautoma, Wis., says, “Most professionals maintain an inherent desire to have a positive influence upon others. A legal career provides an abundance of opportunities to advance this noble objective. Judges must follow the law, but while administering its components with sensitivity to the practical impact it will have upon the recipient. However, this requires awareness that the law represents societal expectations that citizens reasonably rely upon when interacting with one another.

“Judges, therefore, should refrain from the temptation to amend these standards to achieve what they deem is an appropriate outcome. Our three-branch system of government deteriorates when courts change the rules to fit a particular purpose. Rather, there must be a balance reached between respect for what the law says, having a deep appreciation for the consequences that its application will have upon the recipient, and crafting an outcome that pays allegiance to each.”

Dutcher says he reflects daily on the liberal arts education he received at Ripon College – “often in quantities that exceed even my legal training and experience. Far above the intricacies of detailed legal analysis, many decisions that judges make demand an understanding of the human condition and a sensitivity for the predicaments confronting litigants. “Conversely, the judiciary is also frequently confronted with complex legal issues requiring a precise and controlled evaluative approach. These challenges are well-served by the analytical discipline and communication skills that are the backbone of the liberal arts experience.”


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