On Wednesday, February 7, 2024, the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability denied an appeal by 96-year-old Judge Pauline Newman regarding her suspension from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Judge Newman had filed an appeal with the Judicial Conference challenging her suspension amid an ongoing investigation into her mental fitness to serve. However, the Committee upheld the decision, finding that Judge Newman did not have good cause for refusing to cooperate with the Federal Circuit’s investigation.
The issues began last year when Chief Judge Kimberly Moore of the Federal Circuit issued orders in April citing concerns about Judge Newman’s mental and physical impairment. Court employees also alleged reports of memory loss, confusion, and angry outbursts from Judge Newman. Further documents released in August noted Judge Newman had mishandled staff matters and faced a backlog of cases.
In response, the Federal Circuit’s judicial council – comprised of its active judges – voted to suspend Judge Newman for at least one year pending medical exams regarding her mental state. Judge Newman has maintained her mental competence and made public appearances since then.
However, in reviewing the appeal, the seven-judge panel of the Committee said the Federal Circuit had ample evidence justifying the order for Judge Newman to undergo medical testing. The panel also agreed the suspension was within the judicial council’s authority and that its judges did not need to recuse themselves from the matter.
Following the dismissal, Judge Newman’s attorney Greg Dolin said they plan to continue challenging the suspension in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where proceedings have been ongoing since January. Dolin added they may potentially appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Judge Newman, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, is a highly respected figure in patent law and known for her dissenting opinions.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.