Early Retirement for Embattled Federal Judge

     WASHINGTON (CN) - After stepping down as chief judge of the Federal Circuit amid questions of his impartiality, Judge Randall Rader said he will retire on June 30.
     "The bottom line is that I was not happy after vacating the chief position and then awoke to realize that I should leave while I am young and brimming with enthusiasm about the prospects of improving world legal systems," Randall said in an email to the Wall Street Journal after it reported on the court's Friday announcement.
     "With that in mind, my plan for the future is to teach," Randall added.
     The allegations against 65-year-old Rader arose last month after he sent an email to Edward Reines with Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, an attorney who had previously argued before Federal Circuit, the Washington-based court that considers patent-case appeals.
     Rader in the message conveyed a conversation he had with another member of the court praising the attorney's performance. Rader then added his own praise and "urged the attorney to show the email to others."
     The Wall Street Journal quoted Rader as having signed the note to Reines, "Your friend for life, rrr."
     Rader subsequently recused himself from various cases and explained in a May 23 letter to his 17 colleagues that his conduct "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," Rader wrote. "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 this court.
     "I was inexcusably careless, and I sincerely apologize," he wrote.
     "While I never expected the email to emerge as it did, I realize in retrospect that the email constituted a breach of the ethical obligation not to lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of others," the three-page letter continued. "I apologize for that error, which may have led to the perception that the attorney in question was in a position to influence me my performance of judicial duties."
     Rader announced that he would step down as chief judge on May 30 and announced his June 30 retirement date Friday.
     Judge Sharon Prost, whom President George W. Bush appointed in 2001, succeeded Rader as chief judge of the Federal Circuit on May 31.
     Prost previously served as an attorney at the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Internal Revenue Service, as well as associate solicitor and acting solicitor at the National Labor Relations Board.
     She was chief labor counsel for the Minority of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Relations, and minority chief counsel, deputy chief counsel and chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
     Prost has degrees from Cornell University, the George Washington University, the Washington College of Law at American University, and The George Washington University School of Law.
     President George H.W. Budh had appointed Rader to the Federal Circuit in 1990. He also studied at the George Washington University Law School, and obtained his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University.