Rudolph T. Randa

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Rudolph Thomas Randa
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
In office
February 5, 2016 – September 5, 2016
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
In office
Preceded byJoseph Peter Stadtmueller
Succeeded byCharles N. Clevert Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
In office
August 12, 1992 – February 5, 2016
Appointed byGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byRobert W. Warren
Personal details
Rudolph Thomas Randa

(1940-07-25)July 25, 1940
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
DiedSeptember 5, 2016(2016-09-05) (aged 76)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (B.S.)
University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D.)

Rudolph Thomas Randa (July 25, 1940 – September 5, 2016) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. From 2002 until October 2009 he was the Chief Judge of the Court.

Early life and education[edit]

Randa was born July 25, 1940 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a graduate of Milwaukee's Riverside University High School, with honors. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, receiving academic honors and graduating as a distinguished military graduate in 1963. Randa received his Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1966.[1]

Military service[edit]

From 1967 to 1969, Randa served in the United States Army as a Company Commander during the Vietnam War. Randa served with distinction, earning the Bronze Star Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 5 campaign stars, and the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. The first three were awarded by the United States Army and the last awarded by the Republic of Vietnam.[2]

Legal career[edit]

After Vietnam, Randa was appointed to the United States Attorney General's Office in Washington, D.C. In 1970, he returned to Milwaukee. From 1970 to 1973, Randa served as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Milwaukee. In 1973, he became the Principal City Attorney for Milwaukee. He represented the City of Milwaukee in two major civil rights cases filed by individual plaintiffs, the United States Department of Justice and the NAACP, alleging a pattern and practice of discrimination based on race and national origin in the Milwaukee fire and police departments. These suits resulted in consent decrees.[citation needed]

In 1975, Randa was elected Municipal Judge in Milwaukee. In 1979, he was elected Circuit Judge for Milwaukee County. He was appointed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in 1981. Randa was re-appointed Circuit Judge, and re-elected in 1983, where he served until 1992. He served tempus semestre on the 4th District Court of Appeals from 1983 to 1984 and from 1984 to 1985.[1]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Randa was nominated by President George H. W. Bush on April 9, 1992, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin vacated by Judge Robert W. Warren. He was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on August 11, 1992, and received commission on August 12, 1992. He served as Chief Judge from 2002 to 2009. He assumed senior status on February 5, 2016. His service terminated on September 5, 2016, due to death.[1]

In 2002, Randa was appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to serve on the Codes of Conduct Committee of the United States Judicial Conference. He served on the Codes of Conduct Committee until 2008.[citation needed]

Significant rulings[edit]

In 1995, Randa ruled that the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was unconstitutional in banning "nonviolent, physical obstruction of reproductive health services clinics". He ruled that Congress could not use its constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate abortion protests, "a private activity wholly intrastate in character, non-violent by description and definition, without any commercial aspect, the control of which historically and traditionally rested within the domain of local and state authorities, and which has no direct effect on interstate commerce but instead affects an activity found by Congress to be within 'the stream of interstate commerce ...'"[3] His ruling was reversed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.[4]

In 2001, Randa ruled that children in foster care have enforceable federal rights to a speedy adoption and can sue a state for failing to make them legally available for adoption as required under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA). The ruling in Jeanine B v. McCallum was the first court ruling to fully examine the rights of children to sue under ASFA and whether those federal rights impose binding obligations on a state.[5]

In 2009, in Flying J. v. Van Hollen, Randa ruled that Wisconsin's minimum markup of 9.18% on gasoline as required by the Unfair Sales Act was unconstitutional.[6] Randa ruled that this provision creates an illegal restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and that the illegal restraint was not actively supervised by the State. Randa enjoined the State from further enforcement of the law. The Wisconsin Attorney General at that time J.B. Van Hollen announced he would not appeal the decision.[7] The Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association ("WPMCA") moved to intervene post-judgment and to appeal Randa's ruling. In 2010 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Randa's decision and found Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act to be constitutional.[8]

Also in 2009, Randa ordered that prison officials in Wisconsin's primary female correctional facility, Taycheedah Correctional Institution, make significant changes in the distribution and administration of medication to prisoners. Randa ordered the state to begin using licensed practical nurses or medical personnel with equivalent training to distribute and administer prescriptions, instead of using correctional officers. He also ordered that medication must be dispensed and administered in a timely, accurate, and reliable manner.[9]

In 2010, Randa ruled that a bond indenture agreement executed by the Lake of the Torches Economic Development Corporation was void because it was a gaming facility management contract unapproved by the National Indian Gaming Commission. As a consequence, the waiver of the Corporation's sovereign immunity in the indenture was also void, so Randa dismissed an action to enforce the indenture for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.[10] On appeal, the Seventh Circuit agreed that the indenture was an unapproved management contract, but remanded for further proceedings to determine whether any collateral documents could support the waiver of sovereign immunity.[11]

In 2014, Randa ordered that evidence collected by prosecutors in a campaign finance investigation regarding alleged unlawful "coordination" by advocacy groups opposing the 2012 recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker be destroyed and the probe be halted. One day later, a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel issued a stay of his ruling on procedural grounds, returning the case to Randa to determine whether the prosecutors' motions are frivolous.[12][13][14]

On October 14, 2014, Randa issued a preliminary injunction, directing Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm and the state Government Accountability Board to not enforce a controversial section of Wisconsin campaign finance law, which he ruled was in contravention of the First Amendment.[15]

Eight days later, on October 22, Randa extended his temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the law until November 12. He issued the original order on October 14 and it would have expired on October 28 without further action. Randa set oral arguments in the case for October 31, 2014. The lawsuit challenging the law was filed by Citizens for Responsible Government Advocates.[16]


In December 2015, Randa was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, known as an astrocytoma. He died on September 5, 2016, aged 76.[17]


  1. ^ a b c "Randa, Rudolph Thomas - Federal Judicial Center".
  2. ^ "Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal". Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  3. ^ United States v. Wilson, 880 F. Supp. 621 (E.D. Wis. 1995)
  4. ^ United States v. Wilson, 73 F.3d 675 (7th Cir. 1995).
  5. ^ "Wisconsin judge rules foster children have right to sue state for speedy adoption", fostering perspectives, vol. 6, no. 1 (November 2001). Accessed July 31, 2014.
  6. ^ [1] Flying J. v. Van Hollen, Case No. 08-C-110 (E.D. Wis.)
  7. ^ [2] Van Hollen won't appeal minimum markup ruling
  8. ^ Flying J, Inc. v. Hollen, 621 F. 3d 658 (7th Cir. 2010)
  9. ^ Judge Randa orders proper administration of medicine at Taycheedah Women's Prison. Accessed January 17, 2016.
  10. ^ Wells Fargo v. Lake of the Torches, 677 F.Supp.2d 1056 (W.D. Wis. 2009).
  11. ^ Wells Fargo v. Lake of the Torches, 658 F.3d 684 (7th Cir. 2011).
  12. ^ Judge's order tossing "John Doe" investigation is stayed, Wisconsin State Journal, May 7, 2014; retrieved May 14, 2014.
  13. ^ RE "John Doe" investigations against Republicans and conservatives in Wisconsin,; accessed July 31, 2014.
  14. ^ George Will. "Government by intimidation", New York Post, May 11, 2014. Accessed August 1, 2014.
  15. ^ Judge Randa's October 14, 2014 ruling regarding DA Chisholm's "John Doe" investigations,; accessed November 5, 2014.
  16. ^ Judge extends block on Wisconsin campaign law",, October 22, 2014; accessed November 5, 2014.
  17. ^ "Longtime Milwaukee federal judge Randa dies", Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, September 5, 2016.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert W. Warren
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Preceded by
Joseph Peter Stadtmueller
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Charles N. Clevert Jr.