Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel Announces that he is Leaving the Bench

Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel was the featured speaker at the November 20, 2009 Federal Circuit Bar Association Annual Dinner. At that dinner, Chief Judge Michel took that opportunity to announce that he will step-down as from the Bench at the end of May 2010. Although eligible for ‘senior status,’ Michel indicated that he plans to stop judging rather than take senior status.

The FCBA released the following statement:

The 25th Annual Federal Circuit Bar Association Dinner was a night to remember. The featured speaker, Chief Judge Paul R. Michel, announced that he would step down as Chief Judge and as a member of the judiciary, effective May 31, 2010. His moving speech rallied the community to serve and protect the Federal Circuit and the judiciary, as well as all institutions of governance. The record setting crowd included many of Chief Judge Michel’s colleagues, who honored him with several standing ovations.

Chief Judge Michel has been a tireless and passionate leader of the Court, as well as a friend of the Association and the broad spectrum legal community within its jurisdiction. Those attending were heartened by the Chief’s promise to continue his impressive career of public service after leaving the Court. We are confident that he will do so in new and important ways. His 21 years of service on the Court, capped by his tenure as Chief Judge, make for an enduring legacy on top of all his other accomplishments. We are proud to have shared his night with him and his wife, Brooke. We are confident of exciting new horizons for them both.

Judge Randall R. Rader, another great friend of the Circuit and its community, is next in line for Chief Judge. The Association looks forward to continuing its unwavering support for the Court and the next Chief Judge as the Circuit continues to write its history as the national court of appeals.

22 thoughts on “Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel Announces that he is Leaving the Bench

  1. 22

    I’ve done some statistical research re: CAFC on VA and MSPB decisions in the past year. To follow up on Andrew Dhuey’s comment, “when the appellant’s counsel waives argument, it looks like a tacit admission that the appeal is going nowhere.”

    – Pro Se appellants on brief: less than 8% chance of appellant obtaining positive outcome.
    – Attorney waives argument for appellant: approximately 17% chance of positive outcome for appellant.
    – Attorney arguing in person: approximately 48% chance of positive outcome for appellant.

  2. 21

    Yes, I think that’s right. The judges surely knew that Supreme Court review was highly likely. Their opinions were essentially amicus briefs — very important amicus briefs, but really just advice to the high court.

  3. 20

    Thanks Andrew, maybe you also agree that the Rader dissent was designed to function as something of a contrapuntal line that the court would be well advised to consider if not adopt.

    All things considered, with Rader poised to take the Chief Justice seat, and Michel vacating it, I can think of no better way for the FC’s decision to have been structured for maximum effect, regardless of the direction SCOTUS chooses to go.

  4. 19

    I completely agree, NameChange. The Bilski majority essentially said to the Supreme Court, “this is the best we can do with your section 101 precedents. We can’t overrule or limit them; maybe you should.”

  5. 18

    CAFCgroupie –

    There will be no “benchslapping.” The Federal Circuit decision in Bilski was specifically designed to tee up the subject matter issues for reversal or at least clarification.

    Get a clue.

  6. 17

    Chief Judge Michel will be sorely missed. I just hope that he continues to exert his characteristically sobering influence on the profession from wherever he lands. That being said, it is comforting that I can think of no one better suited to take on the role of Chief Justice than judge Rader.

  7. 16

    skyywise, I don’t see how attending oral argument could ever be malpractice. It is certainly true that oral argument is very unlikely to shift a judge from one side to the other. Still, when the appellant’s counsel waives argument, it looks like a tacit admission that the appeal is going nowhere. On the respondent’s side, it could never be malpractice to appear and assure that the court doesn’t misunderstand the record or governing law.

  8. 15

    @John Roethel – Oral argument is not something lawyers tend to do just to cover the bases and prevent a malpractice claim. Especially an appellate oral argument. The cost of actually going to trial is usually much higher than any other cost the lawyer will bill the client for. Going to the oral argument stage for every client would likely itself be malpractice.

    Also, women don’t bear the burden of ties, but they do often have to wear high heels. I’ll take the necktie any day over heels.

    @6 – The bracelet thing has never done it for me. I imagine at oral argument, it would be really distracting if the attorney had to constantly shift her bangle so that it didn’t dangle.

  9. 14

    “Because women wear bracelets and necklaces as symbols of servitude.”


    Don’t be so down on your gender broje.

    Seriously though, I like girls that wear bracelets and earrings. Necklaces, meh, couldn’t care less.

  10. 13

    *****How come women don’t have to wear ties?******

    Because women wear bracelets and necklaces as symbols of servitude.

  11. 12

    I say be ready for more tension between the Fed Cir and the Sup Ct on what qualifies for a patent. J. Rader is funny and knowledgeable, but is certainly predisposed to the generous granting of patents. I remember hearing him speak outside of the court and say (paraphrasing from memory), “KSR is really only a slight modification to the TSM test. And it wasn’t a good case to address the topic anyway, since the Federal Circuit had only made a slight mistake there.”

    Yeah, sure J. Rader, that’s what the Sup Ct meant in KSR.

  12. 11

    How do y’all determine whether the value of oral argument justifies the expense to the client? Or does the risk of a malpractice claim just mandate having an oral argument in the same way that doctors order extra tests?

    How come women don’t have to wear ties?

  13. 10

    I hope CJ Michel continues to encourage Congress to ditch the 50-mile residency requirement for CAFC judges. I’m not sure there was ever a good reason for that, but there sure isn’t now.

    In the regional circuits, judges can have their chambers anywhere in the circuit (e.g., Ninth Cir. Judge Clifton in Honolulu). The CAFC’s region is the whole nation. Airfare between SFO/LAX to Washington is actually pretty cheap (just paid $220 RT on Virgin America for upcoming oral argument). Add in cheap teleconferencing, and you have no reason to limit the talent search to those in the DC area, and those willing to relocate there.

  14. 9

    omgosh, a coherent comment from 6K?? (actually two)

    Michel will be really missed… Rader is cool, knowledgeable, and funny.

    Well done, Chief Judge Michel.

  15. 8

    to s… my c…
    “What douche shows up for arguments at the CAFC without a tie? Was he wearing crocs too?”

    Maybe a guy like you, who nurtures illusion of being a rebel, be it because of his (lack of a) tie or (vulgar) French nom de plume?

  16. 7

    “Next time wear a tie. This is the Federal Circuit.”

    Are you serious? What douche shows up for arguments at the CAFC without a tie? Was he wearing crocs too?

  17. 4

    IIRC, Judge Rader was the one who rebuked counsel during oral argument (can’t remember the case, I think it was in the first half of 2008), telling him more or less, “Next time wear a tie. This is the Federal Circuit.” Still LOL about that one.

  18. 2

    Bilski will probably be out right around the time of his retiring. Will the Supreme Court refrain from benchslapping a respected chief judge on the eve of his departure?

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