U.S. Circuit Judge Randall R. Rader on Friday said he will step down next Friday as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Later, he issued a letter of apology for an ethical lapse.  The Federal Circuit is the specialized tribunal that hears appeals in cases involving patent rights, government contracting disputes, and federal employees’ rights.

In a brief announcement on the Federal Circuit’s website on Friday morning, Judge Rader announced that he was stepping down as chief judge.  He will remain on the Court, and be replaced in the chief judgeship by Circuit Judge Sharon Prost.  The statement did not mention it, but the action apparently was prompted by a story in Friday editions of The Wall Street Journal saying that he had recused himself from two cases at the court after having sent a laudatory email to an attorney who had argued before him.

Friday afternoon, the judge made public a letter of apology he had sent to his colleagues on the bench, describing how he had been “inexcusably careless” and briefly described his email message.  The letter is here.   He can remain on the bench because he has a lifetime appointment.


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Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Chief Judge Rader gives up post, SCOTUSblog (May. 23, 2014, 3:17 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/05/chief-judge-rader-gives-up-post/