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Ex-Fed. Cir. Judge Rader's BFF Gets Reprimanded in Email Scandal

Everyone remembers the scandal that led to Chief Judge Randall R. Rader's resignation earlier this year, right? The Chief sent an email to his buddy, Edward Reines, a patent attorney at Weil Gotshal's Silicon Valley office. The email related a third-party judge's comments that Reines was "IMPRESSIVE in every way," and Rader added: "I was really proud to be your friend," before encouraging Reines to let others see the message.

Chief Rader stepped aside, but the scandal apparently wasn't over. On Wednesday, the Federal Circuit issued a rare en banc bench-slapping of Reines over his use of the laudatory email -- and forwarded a second friendly gesture between the two pals to the California State Bar for further proceedings.

Did Reines cross the line by taking Rader up on his suggestion to share the email? Or is this much ado about two buddies sharing compliments and concert tickets?

'Imply an Ability to Influence Improperly a Government Agency or Official'

At first blush, one might wonder how sharing an email from a friend would violate ethics rules. However, Reines forwarded the email to dozens of clients and lawyers, many of whom were considering whether to commence or continue having him represent them in Federal Circuit matters.

The email itself was extremely laudatory and called Reines a "friend for life." But it was the recipient's comments and conduct that really got him in hot water:

Respondent's comments transmitting the email also convey a special relationship with then-Chief Judge Rader and the Federal Circuit. Respondent described the email as "unusual" or "quite unusual" in some of his accompanying comments, [citation] and referenced his "stature" within the court and his role as chair of the Federal Circuit's Advisory Council, [citation].

Reines also apparently "stated that his 'stature' within the court had helped 'flip' a $52 million judgment in favor of his client and that he 'would love to help [the recipient of his message] do the same.'

A Public Reprimand and a Referral

The court weighed a lot of mitigating evidence -- clean history, prior service to the court as part of the advisory counsel, and the fact that we're talking about a forwarded email from a judge -- against what they felt was Reines dishonestly downplaying his relationship with Rader, before settling on a public reprimand.

That's not all, however. The en banc court also noted that it would refer a second matter to the California State Bar -- gifts exchanged between the two:

On Mr. Reines's side, he provided a ticket for one concert, at another concert arranged for upgrading to a standing area near the stage, and arranged for backstage access for then-Chief Judge Rader at both. Then-Chief Judge Rader paid for accommodations. This occurred while Mr. Reines had cases pending before this court.

If you're curious about their musical tastes, according to Above the Law, the rumor is that it was a Rolling Stones concert.

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