On Tuesday, May 16, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an order directing Honorable Pauline Newman, a Federal Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to undergo neurological and neuropsychological evaluation and testing after being complained for her incompetence to serve in her judicial office.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Pauline Newman,” with case no. 23-90015.

On May 10, 2023, Honorable Pauline Newman filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief against Hon. Kimberly A, Moore, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and several other justices before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. This action is a response to the legal action taken by Honorable Moore, who filed a formal complaint against Judge Newman. Hon. Moore claims to have reasonable grounds to believe that Judge Newman is incapable of fulfilling her responsibilities effectively. The complaint centers around an allegation that Judge Newman is excessively slow in issuing opinions, which has a detrimental impact on the proper functioning of the justice system. Furthermore, Hon. Moore states that she has received accounts from fellow colleagues and individuals associated with the court that have raised concerns about Judge Newman’s overall competence to serve in her capacity as a judge.

Judge Newman emphasized that neither the existing laws nor the rules of conduct grant the authority to the Chief Judge acting alone or any judicial council of a circuit to issue orders or directives that would prevent an active Article III judge from being assigned cases in the regular order while an investigation is still ongoing.

Additionally, Judge Newman stated that the ongoing investigation into her conduct violates the fundamental principles of due process. The reason is that the special committee responsible for the investigation is comprised of individuals who are potential witnesses to the alleged disability of Hon. Newman. According to the latter, this raises concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the investigation process.

The report on action for declaratory relief states:

“Judge Newman also argued that neither the act nor the U.S. Constitution authorizes compelling an Article III judge to undergo a medical or psychiatric examination or to surrender to any investigative authority her private medical records in furtherance of an investigation into whether the judge suffers from a mental or physical disability that renders her unable to discharge all the duties of the office. Plaintiff enjoys the right to be secure in her person and effects against unreasonable search and seizures, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The report on action for declaratory relief continues:

“WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court: (1) declare the Act to be unconstitutional, either in whole or in part and enjoin Defendants from enforcing the Act to the extent it is unconstitutional; (2) declare any continued proceedings against Plaintiff by the Judicial Council of the Federal Circuit to be unconstitutional as violative of due process of law and enjoin Defendants from continuing any such proceedings, except to the extent necessary to transfer the matter to a judicial council of another circuit; (3) order the termination of any further investigation of Plaintiff by the Judicial Council of the Federal Circuit;”

In the latest order issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the court instructed that Judge Newman should promptly cooperate with the committee’s inquiry and address the concerns raised regarding her cognitive abilities. Despite asserting that she does not suffer from any impairment, Judge Newman should meet with an independent neurologist and neuropsychologist chosen by the committee for appropriate examinations. According to the court, it is crucial to ensure that judges handling cases are mentally fit, and when serious concerns arise, they must be taken seriously and addressed expeditiously.

Moreover, the court emphasized that the litigants involved in cases before the court deserve confidence in the judge’s rulings, free from doubts about cognitive impairments and it is the committee and the Judicial Council who hold the responsibility to guarantee judges’ capabilities in resolving cases. Judge Newman should willingly undergo the necessary examinations to remove any cloud of uncertainty hanging over her participation in cases while such concerns persist.

The Order states:


(1) Judge Newman is directed to undergo the above-identified evaluation and testing;
(2) Given the willingness of the expert professionals to handle this matter on an expedited basis, the fact that these examinations have now been ordered three times dating back to April 7, 2023, and the need to retain the expert professionals and allocate funds, a prompt response is necessary to secure the appointments. Judge Newman is directed to inform the Committee by 9:00 am on May 23, 2023 (email response is acceptable) whether she will comply with this Order and make herself available for the above-needed evaluations and tests
(3) Judge Newman is directed to inform the Committee in writing (email response is acceptable) by 9:00 am on May 23, 2023, as to whether she will provide the neurologist with the medical records identified above and a list of current medications. The records would be due to the neurologist within 30 days of this Order.

Judge Newman sits as a Federal Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit located at 717 Madison Place, NW, Washington, DC 20439, and can be reached at (202) 275-8000. Her info can be found on Ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.