Judge Randy Rice

A reflection by Ann Ravel,

I first met Randy Rice when I was a sophomore at Willow Glen High School and he was a junior. We met because he was friends with my brother, Paul, who was in the same class as Randy.

Soon Randy was a staple at our house. My parents loved him, as did I, and he became a member of the family and was always there for bridge with my parents and brother, dinners, and parties.  Randy was a brilliant student, and also the warmest, most charming, thoughtful and considerate person I had ever met.  Throughout his life he was kind and humble, which made him a very well respected jurist.

When in high school, Randy served for two years on the school Judicial Council, and was elected as the Supreme Court Justice of the Judicial Council.  This foreshadowed his future. 

After high school, Randy graduated from UC Santa Cruz, and then attended the Episcopal Divinity School of the Pacific. He was ordained as a priest in 1973, served as a curate of the Calvary Church in Santa Cruz, was Vicar of Christ Church in San Francisco, Canon of Trinity Cathedral, San Jose, and Chancellor of the Diocese of El Camino Real.

Randy would go on to  graduate from UC Hastings College of the Law.  After graduating from law school, he became a partner at Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro in San Francisco, and was a founding partner at Genesis Law Group in 1996, which in 1998 merged with Skjerven Merrill Law firm.

In 1999 Governor Wilson appointed him as Judge of the Superior Court in Santa Clara County.  He had all the qualities needed in a judge: he was empathetic, fair, a judicious analyst of the law, and he believed that his calling was to serve the people of this County.

Randy was the first only “out” LGBTQ Judge in the County. When he was able to do so, he married his partner and husband Nikolaus Merrell. 

Unfortunately, Randy suffered a fall while trimming a tree at his home in 2004. The fall resulted in a severe head injury, which was really debilitating.  But true to Randy’s commitment to public service, he remained on the bench until January of 2008, when he retired on disability.  He and his husband moved to Costa Rica.  He died there in September, 2019, from complications from his fall. He is survived by sons, daughters, and grandchildren. 

Though he had a limited time on the bench, Randy was an outstanding Judge due to his compassion for people, his selflessness, and his legal acumen. Randy was an exceptional and unusual person, and unique in many ways on the bench in Santa Clara County.

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