Rader 法官提出辞呈

[袁丹吉]

Rader法官昨天(5/23/2014)提出辭呈,將在5/30辭去Chief Judge的職位,回歸為CAFC一般巡迴上訴法院的上訴法官。

CAFC也正式在其網站宣佈他的決定:

CHIEF JUDGE RANDALL R. RADER TO STEP DOWN AS CHIEF JUDGE ON MAY 30, 2014

Chief Judge Randall R. Rader today announced his intention to step down as chief judge on May 30, 2014. Judge Rader will continue in active service on the court. He will also undertake additional teaching, lecturing and travel. Consistent with statutory succession provisions, Judge Sharon Prost will succeed Judge Rader as the chief judge.

(出处:http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/announcements)。
 

除此之外,Rader法官也公開了一封他寫給CAFC其他法官的道歉信,說明了一些看似對法院中立性不適當或不當影響特定權利義務之虞"appearance of impropriety"的行為,他深感抱歉,也後悔寫了一封email稱讚一位上訴律師。但這封信並未明確說明就是他辭職的原因,也未明確說明他辭職是為了補救他所做的行為。該信內容全文在附件中。

Rader法官從2010年5/30開始上認為Chief Judge,今年剛好是四周年。另外,據報導,Rader法官今年四月起開始有資格領取聯邦政府給予的退休金。有些美國同行或媒體猜測是否這些都在他的計畫之中。

在了解這個新聞的過程中,我的好奇心來了: 首席法官是否可以根據他自己覺得可能對法院的影響,自己寫封道歉的信,然後就提出辭呈,辭去首席法官,然後就回到當初的位子,繼續做一般的上訴法官嗎? 經過兩個小時的研究與調查,發現28 USC 45(a)(1)是專門規範上訴法院首席法官資格的條款:

(1) The chief judge of the circuit shall be the circuit judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who—

(A) are sixty-four years of age or under;
(B) have served for one year or more as a circuit judge; and
(C) have not served previously as chief judge.
 
而28 USC 45(c)是規範首席法官去留的條款:
 
(c) If the chief judge desires to be relieved of his duties as chief judge while retaining his active status as circuit judge, he may so certify to the Chief Justice of the United States, and thereafter the chief judge of the circuit shall be such other circuit judge who is qualified to serve or act as chief judge under subsection (a).

從這個條款而言,Rader法官的公開信與提出辭呈的宣布是否符合了"he may so certify to the Chief Justice of the United States"的條件呢? 還是他早已提出給美國最高法院院長的文件,只是在這些公開信裡為提,這就不得而知了。 不過,Rader法官倒是CAFC自從近32年前成立以來第二位自願下台的首席法官。在我調查上述法條的同時,我也簡單地用google檢索過去到底有多少位上訴法院首席法官在任期滿以前辭職的,目前尚未找到。之後我從Holbrook教授得知,原來Rader法官的辭呈在CAFC也並未先例。之前CAFC法官Helen Nies也只做了四年,退下來後又回到原來的位置。她辭下來的原因是為了讓另一位CAFC的法官,Archer法官可以做首席法官。

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PDF icon 5-23-14_RRR _Letter.pdf285.64 KB