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Judge in Milwaukee archdiocesan bankruptcy case refuses to recuse himself

Catholic World News - October 02, 2013

A federal judge involved in the bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has refused an appeal by lawyers for sex-abuse victims that he should recuse himself from the case.

Creditors in the Milwaukee bankruptcy case, led by lawyers for sex-abuse victims, had asked Judge Rudolph Randa to remove himself from a case in which he had ruled that the archdiocese acted within its legal rights when it set up a separate trust to finance the care of the archdiocesan cemeteries. The creditors had argued that Judge Randa had a conflict of interest because he had purchased a cemetery lot for his parents.

Lawyers for the Milwaukee archdiocese had argued strongly against the motion for Judge Randa’s recusal, dismissing it as “a thinly disguised attempt to shop for a new district court judge.” The archdiocesan lawyers said that forcing Judge Randa to step down, merely because he had relatives buried in archdiocesan cemeteries, would “impermissibly impose a religious test on this judge.”

In declining to recuse himself, Judge Randa said that the legal arguments raised in the case would undoubtedly be tested in an appeals court. “The last thing this case needs is another decision by another lower court federal judge” before the appeals process begins, he said.

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