Judge Randal Rader of the Court of Appeals of the US Federal Circuit Resigns as Chief Judge

 The following is largely cribbed from the IPKAT.

Chief Judge Randall R Rader of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has resigned from his role as the head of the CAFC.  

On Friday, Chief Judge Rader wrote a letter to his 18 CAFC colleagues in which he stated:

“I have come to realize that I have engaged in conduct that crossed lines established for the purpose of maintaining a judicial process whose integrity must remain beyond question.  It is important to emphasize that I did not and would never compromise my impartiality in judging any case before me.  But avoiding even the appearance of partiality is a vital interest of our courts, and I compromised that interest by transgressing limits on judges’ interactions with attorneys who appear before the court.  I was inexcusably careless, and I sincerely apologize.”

This emphatic language was as a result of an email that, according to the Wall Street Journal, he had sent to Edward Reines at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.  In this email Chief Judge Rader had reported a conversation that he had with another member of the court who had “praised the attorney’s performance” and also included the judge’s own praise.  Chief Judge Rader had also encouraged the recipient to show the email to others.  In retrospect, the judge recognized that the email constituted a beach of the ethical obligation not to lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of others. 

Chief Judge Rader

In his letter the judge also referred to having to recuse himself from previous cases.  A few weeks ago, Chief Judge Rader recused himself from two cases in which Edward Reines was appearing– one for Microsoft and another for Medtronic.  The case concerning Microsoft brought by DataTern Inc was judged in favour of Microsoft and SAP.  Judge Rader wrote a dissenting opinion.  A month later, the CAFC reissued its decision, excluding Rader’s dissent and noting he had been recused from the case.  Whether these events are the main cause of his resignation can only be speculation. 

Chief Judge Rader has been on the court for almost 24 years, having been appointed by President George H. W. Bush way back in 1990.  He became Chief Judge in 2010.  His resignation will become effective on 30 May 2014, after which he will remain on the court as a circuit judge. Sharon Prost, who is part of the 18-judge court, will replace him as Chief Judge.   With a background in labour law, Judge Prost was appointed by Dubya in 2001.

COMMENT

Apart from finding his singing abilities short of his enthusiasm, I have only the best to day about Judge Rader. His decisions are well thought out and well written, and he is a charming fellow.

I’ve noted at IP events in Israel where Marshal Phelps had spoken on a case where Rader had an interest, he was quick to leave the room.

Coming from the UK, I expect a person in authority to resign for misappropriate behaviour that might tarnish the office. Unfortunately, this happens less rarely in Israel, where ministers and others hand on to power until they lose in court. The Israeli courts are also seen as politically aligned and less than impartial. In the past, a head of the Jewish Agency, Simcha Dinitz,was found to have used a Jewish Agency credit card for private purchases. The defense that he’d made a genuine mistake was accepted. Things have got better though. A former president is in prison and a former prime minister has been sentenced for corruption. Corruption always exists and the question is how a society deals with it. Rader’s behaviour is honorable. It is a great shame.

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