On Monday, February 12, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia mostly dismissed a lawsuit filed by 96-year-old Federal Circuit Judge Pauline Newman challenging her suspension.

The case is entitled “Moore v. Newman,” with case number 1:23-cv-01334.

Judge Newman, who was appointed to the Federal Circuit bench in 1984 and is one of the longest serving judges, filed a lawsuit last year against the court’s judicial council after she was suspended in September 2023. The suspension occurred after Judge Newman did not comply with a court order to undergo medical examinations related to concerns about her mental health and cognitive ability. Court documents released in August 2023 described staff witnessing Judge Newman exhibiting memory loss, confusion and at times angry behavior.

In her lawsuit, Judge Newman argued that the Federal Circuit’s judicial council violated her constitutional rights when it suspended her and initiated a competency investigation. She requested that either her suspension be reversed or the investigation be transferred to a different court.

However, in its ruling on Monday, the U.S. District Court rejected most of Judge Newman’s claims. The court said prior cases have affirmed the judiciary’s authority to self-govern and ensure the competence of its judges. While some parts of Judge Newman’s lawsuit alleging vagueness in the law and constitutional issues may still proceed, the core of her legal challenges to the suspension and investigation were dismissed.

In a statement, Judge Newman’s attorney Greg Dolin said they plan to appeal the dismissal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This latest legal decision regarding Judge Newman comes after the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking arm of the federal court system, also dismissed a separate complaint filed by the judge last week challenging her suspension.

At 96 years old, Judge Newman remains one of the oldest and most experienced federal judges. She is well known for her extensive expertise in patent law and has authored many dissenting opinions during her lengthy career on the Federal Circuit bench. However, concerns from other judges and staff due to observed changes in her mental functioning led to the ongoing competency review and legal disputes over her suspension.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.