‘A Terrible Precedent to Set’: Newman Suspension Upheld on Appeal

“This is a terrible precedent to set. Federal Judges on both sides of the political spectrum should be afraid. It is perfectly within the province of any federal court to demand any judge submit to a mental evaluation, and if you don’t you will be indefinitely suspended.” – Gene Quinn

Judge Pauline NewmanThe Judicial Conference of the United States’ Committee on Judicial Conduct (Conference) and Disability issued its decision today in Judge Pauline Newman’s appeal of the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ (Council) September 2023 decision to suspend her from all cases.

Federal Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly Moore first identified a complaint against Newman in April 2023. IPWatchdog was the first to break the news, and the court soon published a statement responding to media reports and making previously sealed documents public.

The Council’s September decision made official the July 31 recommendation of the Federal Circuit’s Special Committee that Newman be suspended from taking on case assignments for one year, “or at least until she ceases her misconduct and cooperates such that the Committee can complete its investigation.” It barred Newman from hearing any cases at the panel or en banc level and discredited the two independent medical reports Newman has undergone in lieu of submitting to the court’s preferred exams, calling them “not remotely an adequate substitute for the thorough medical examinations ordered by the Committee.”

Today’s Conference decision denied Newman’s petition for review of the Council’s decision, holding that the Council did not abuse its discretion in refusing to transfer the proceedings to a different circuit, that Newman has not shown good cause for her failure to cooperate, and that the sanction did not exceed the Judicial Council’s authority.

Regarding transfer, the Conference reasoned that “[t]he Special Committee made clear that, in light of Judge Newman’s refusal to undergo a medical evaluation, provide relevant medical records, and participate in an interview with the Special Committee, the Special Committee, and subsequently, the Judicial Council, was considering only the narrow question of whether the failure to cooperate constituted misconduct.” Consideration of this “narrow question” did not require the members of the Council to serve as witnesses and thus “Judge Newman’s argument that members of the Judicial Council were required to recuse themselves is unavailing,” wrote the Conference.

The Special Committee narrowed the focus of its investigation to whether Newman’s refusal to undergo medical examination and to provide medical records constitutes misconduct in separate orders issued June 1 and June 5.

Today’s decision also said Newman had not presented evidence of actual bias and agreed with the Council’s explanation of why transfer is not warranted at this stage. Among these reasons is that staff have “ready access” to the Committee and more personal knowledge of Judge Newman and the relevant circumstances. The decision continued:

“Rule 26 permits, but does not require, a chief circuit judge or judicial council to request, in ‘exceptional circumstances,’ that the Chief Justice transfer a matter to another circuit. The Chief Circuit Judge and the Judicial Council exercised their discretion and made a reasoned determination as to the absence of ‘exceptional circumstances’ to justify a transfer request at this stage of the proceedings.”

The decision also noted that the Council has indicated Newman’s transfer request can be renewed if she “chooses to cooperate with the Special Committee’s investigation.”

In explaining its finding that Newman did not show good cause for her refusal to cooperate, the Conference’s decision said that Judge Newman was not denied due process and that she “was afforded all the process she was due under the Rules.” It also said the Council had “voluminous evidence” warranting that Newman undergo a medical evaluation and that she “was given numerous opportunities to contest the basis upon which the Special Committee determined that a medical evaluation was necessary” but chose not to challenge it. “Based on the facts before us, we conclude that the evidence that Judge Newman may suffer from a disability that prevents her from discharging the duties of office is sufficient to justify the reasonable requirement that she undergo a medical examination,” said today’s decision.

The decision also said that the Conference’s precedent has found, as the Judicial Council noted in its September Order, that “it is settled precedent that a subject judge may not circumvent the investigation process by submitting tests of her own choosing in lieu of those ordered by the Committee.”

Finally, the decision rejected Newman’s counsel’s argument that the sanction of a one year suspension, subject to renewal if Newman continues to refuse to cooperate, amounts to an “ad infinitum” sanction, which is in violation of  Rule 20 of the Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings. Newman’s counsel, Greg Dolin of the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), told IPWatchdog in September that he believes the order is flatly illegal, citing to Rule 20, which requires a “fixed period” for suspending a judge from being assigned new cases. According to Dolin, the order calls for a floating period of one year that is renewable depending on whether Newman chooses to submit to the Council’s preferred medical examinations. Dolin also said the action taken was not remedial, as required by the rules, but “coercive.”

But the Conference’s decision today said that “although the sanction is subject to renewal, unlike other suspensions, Judge Newman has the power to trigger reconsideration or modification if she decides to cooperate.”

According to a statement released by the NCLA today, “Judge Newman’s indefinite suspension is unprecedented in American judicial history, exceeding sanctions imposed on judges who committed serious misconduct and improprieties.”

Dolin also noted that, while they were disappointed with the decision, it “confirmed, contrary to the Judicial Council’s district court briefs, that the Judicial Council was acting in an administrative rather than judicial capacity. This fact indicates its actions are subject to the same review as actions of any other agency. Judge Newman intends to fully press for such review in properly constituted Article III courts.”

Judge Newman herself commented:

“Nothing has changed since last February – I continue to be fully able to perform the duties of the office which was entrusted to me. This has been confirmed by two physicians and numerous individuals who have interacted with me over the last twelve months. This battle is not just for me, but for the very concept of judicial independence and protection of our constitutional structure. I will continue to fight it.”

IPWatchdog Founder and CEO Gene Quinn said that, while it was expected that the decision would side with Chief Judge Moore, it still “creates a terrible and scary precedent.” He continued:

“Indeed, one has to wonder whether the decision of a committee made up almost exclusively of federal judges having already taken senior status and working only part-time is reflective of the way the entire, full-time federal judiciary would view this issue.

As a result of Chief Judge Moore’s actions, and ratification by this senior panel, it is now perfectly legitimate to question the mental competence of a federal judge and demand the judge submit to a mental examination—even without any credible evidence of cognitive decline. Even the Federal Circuit themselves have abandoned the egregious myth that Judge Newman is suffering from some mental decline, instead pursuing this matter only because she did not comply with Chief Judge Moore’s order. And, by now it is uncontroverted that the original complaint by Chief Judge Moore contains wild factual inaccuracies. So, the decision to impeach her with an indefinite suspension is not only scary, but it clearly violates the U.S. Constitution.

This is a terrible precedent to set. Federal Judges on both sides of the political spectrum should be afraid. It is perfectly within the province of any federal court to demand any judge submit to a mental evaluation, and if you don’t you will be indefinitely suspended. The potential for abuse is as extraordinary as it is obvious.

Is it now also fair game for practitioners and litigants to question the mental fitness of the judges assigned to their cases? It will be impossible to argue with any intellectual integrity that it is inappropriate for practitioners and litigants to question the mental fitness of members of the federal judiciary. This opens a pandora’s box of truly horrible consequences.”

This article was updated on February 7 to include the NCLA and Judge Newman’s statements.


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Join the Discussion

32 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 12, 2024 06:44 pm


    With all due respect, your proposal is both CRAP and unnecessary.

    There is zero reason to contemplate your proposal.

    I would also direct you to the new article today, in which Judge Cooper refutes the position that Judge Newman had any disability (that would have been at the heart of the suggested ‘ill-treatment’).

  • [Avatar for Jake H]
    Jake H
    February 12, 2024 03:37 pm

    Anon – if you’re so certain of that, you wouldn’t have a problem with what I proposed. If the employee isn’t telling the truth then Newman will win her appeal, and if they are, then she’ll lose (as she will be as impaired as has been alleged or, worse, she was a –federal judge– who abused their power in the worst way imaginable short of actually sending the person to prison). That you do have a problem with it speaks volumes.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 12, 2024 03:05 pm

    Jake H – truthfulness of a disgruntled employee co-opted into a witchhunt?

    Thank you no – the plain and bigger picture presents a much better view.

  • [Avatar for Jake H]
    Jake H
    February 12, 2024 01:38 pm

    Anon – no, I’m believing what are reported to be sworn statements. But how about this: let’s let Judge Newman’s fate ride on the truthfulness of the employees’ claims – deal?

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 11, 2024 09:39 am

    S – nice try, but an absolute FAIL from you.

    First, my replies certainly are not to the single point of partisan.

    Second, you STILL get partisan wrong, as my aim is to the law and its proper application so that a strong innovation protection system abounds.

    Third, there were not one but two mental examinations on the record – and those CLEARLY removed that aspect of the charges, which is precisely why Judge Moore and cohorts dropped pursuit of those charges.

    Fourth, your FALSE concern is immediately reflected in your NOT acknowledging the points above, but somehow still insisting that Moore et al were acting on inability to perform (which as others have shown with clear facts, Judge Newman WAS outperforming other judges on the bench).

    Stop “wishing me luck,” and start acknowledging plain facts on the record.

  • [Avatar for S]
    February 10, 2024 10:56 pm


    So many words written to avoid the point.

    I’m deeply sorry that I have left you so few islands to flee to that you have clung desperately to your objection at my use of the word “partisan.” But you must realize that this line of argument is barely drift wood.

    It is very difficult to perform an examination of one’s mental capacity when one refuses to take such an examination. Short neurological exams are no replacement for the tests the Committee called for.

    My opinions are based on concerns that a 96 year old women may be suffering the natural mental decline that often comes with age. You maintain your position because you think that her opinions, or at least her presence on the Court, supports innovation protection.

    Your position bears no relationship to the mental capacity of Judge Newman. How, then, can I respond? You have no desire to address the central question. In your quest to protect innovation you have gone to war with reality.

    I wish you the best of luck, friend.

  • [Avatar for Charles E. Miller]
    Charles E. Miller
    February 10, 2024 11:00 am

    Et tu, Director Vidal? Stay tuned, sports fans.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 10, 2024 09:57 am

    With all due respect, S – pull your head out.

    Your statement of “Unfortunately Judge Newman’s actions…have prevented us from pursuing that question.” is utter bollocks.

    The decision to DROP that inquiry going forward was Judge Moore’s and it was done – clearly – because Judge Moore could not prevail on that point.

    You also mischaracterize my position as one in which I merely “agree with her opinions” – this is a mistake in attribution. I have opinions based on what is best for innovation protection – and not the other way around. This is NOT “partisan” as that word means. If you want to TRY to use that word as some type of denigration, you should BOTH a) choose a correct word, and b) understand the background of what strong innovation protection entails.

    As you have done neither, and as YOU continue to refuse to see the full picture, AND as YOU have not answered my question (leastwise directly) as to what YOUR position is based on, what then is the logical conclusion?

    Feel free to establish something other than that logical conclusion.

    If you can, or if you dare.

  • [Avatar for Patent Owner]
    Patent Owner
    February 10, 2024 03:21 am

    If you think this is BAD, You should be a Patent owner…

    Innovation is dying folks right before your eyes, and so is your careers.

    Somebody better attend to what’s happening to our Patent world.

    Sos ?

  • [Avatar for S]
    February 9, 2024 06:47 pm


    We can apparently agree that Judge Newman’s mental capacity should have been the primary focus of this investigation. Unfortunately Judge Newman’s actions (or, as I suspect, the actions of her counsel) have prevented us from pursuing that question.

    You say “My position instead is based on who provides the best and strongest innovation protection.” You have outright stated that you believe that she is mentally capable because you agree with her opinions. You clearly have no actual concern for her health, you only care about your vision of patent law. But by all means, keep up the nonpartisan illusion.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 9, 2024 06:06 pm

    S: your lame pro hominem attacks are nowhere near causing much harm.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 9, 2024 05:38 pm

    Quite not S – it is you that have put on blinders. You simply want to ignore the railroad job and pretend that this was entirely on the up and up.

    It was not.

    To the direct case in point: Judge Moore jumped the tracks and did not even pursue the inability to do the job portion.

    Case in point: Judge Newman – even with the preponderance of dissents – was more efficient than other judges of the CAFC.

    My position carries NO “partisanship” – as you clearly use that word incorrectly.

    My position instead is based on who provides the best and strongest innovation protection.

    What is your position based on – weakening innovation protection?

  • [Avatar for S]
    February 9, 2024 04:57 pm


    You have lost touch of reality and are blinded by your political biases. A 96 year old’s colleagues and staff are concerned about her mental fitness. She is a judge on the Federal Circuit, a taxing job that holds tremendous responsibility.

    If you don’t understand the need to fully examine her mental faculties, you have sacrificed any sense you had at the altar of blind partisanship.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 9, 2024 02:12 pm

    All phenomena are real in some sense , unreal in some sense, meaningless in some sense, real and meaningless in some sense,and real and unreal and meaningless in some sense.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 9, 2024 01:56 pm

    To avoid any confusion, sister Anon that posted at February 9, 2024 12:32 pm is NOT the usual poster Anon.

    That post is clearly NOT representative of the pseudonym, falling far short of the reasonableness and insight that the readership has grown accustomed to.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 9, 2024 12:32 pm

    Jake H – I don’t think she was just an abusive employer, I agree that the paranoia and aggression on display in the released evidence illustrate mental decline.

    I was mostly just making the point that if people think she’s still with it, the alternative is that she abuses her staff.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 9, 2024 08:56 am


    The denial is ALL on your side. What part of railroading are you having trouble grasping?

  • [Avatar for PeteMoss]
    February 8, 2024 11:01 pm

    Even if she is suffering from age-related mental decline, her opinions are still more well-reasoned than the opinions of the rest of the Federal Circuit judges. She has outlived her usefulness because her IP world view is an impediment to global IP harmonization. Other countries of the world spent or are currently spending hundreds of years under the rule of a king or queen or single political party. Property rights reside/resided historically reside solely in the Crown or the People’s Party – not individuals. So, in many countries outside the US, there is no organic culture of individual property rights. When you read “harmonization”, it means the US intends to lower its patent strength to meet the rest of the world vice the rest of the world elevating its IP strength to meet the US. Judge Newman, as evidenced in her opinions, believes in strong IP rights. So, she has to go.

  • [Avatar for S]
    February 8, 2024 07:16 pm


    I’m pleased to see that you’ve graduated from fanciful delusion to placid denial.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 8, 2024 04:37 pm

    Jake H – you are believing the smear campaign.

    S, you are simply not correct.

  • [Avatar for Jake H]
    Jake H
    February 8, 2024 02:49 pm

    Anon, I disagree with you that the evidence shows Judge Newman was ” just an abusive employer” – her paranoid charges and belief that she could have this worker incarcerated at a minimum call her cognitive state into question. She’s a judge for crying out loud, not some tech bro CEO. And apart from that and other evidence questioning her faculties, to be “held responsible” for something that heinous in a just world would be an even harsher result: she’d be criminally charged and convicted. Again, the callousness towards the abuse of power against here against a non-management government worker making a modest salary is really telling.

  • [Avatar for Concerned Citizen]
    Concerned Citizen
    February 8, 2024 01:50 pm

    Perhaps I am in the minority. I think we need a constitutional convention to amend the constitution to have mandatory retirement age or maximum age to run for/take office for leading government positions, such as House Reps, Senators, Judges and the President. How about term limits while we are at it.
    We have people serving in these positions now and in the past that were way beyond their ability to perform such demanding high stress jobs, let alone just beyond their prime. People in their eighties and nineties! Some recent and current examples are Senators Grassley, and Feinstein; and Judge Ginsburg. Dare I say Judge Newman (I don’t know her, but she is 96 years old!), and Presidents Biden and Trump. If President Trump wins the next election he will be 80 years old when taking office. With all due respect to all of these individuals, all of whom have my respect, they have earned it, if you are over 80 years old, you most likely have lost a few steps at minimum and the decline will only accelerate in the coming years. I have observed this in my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as others.

  • [Avatar for S]
    February 8, 2024 11:29 am


    I am going to assume you have little experience in the medical field or at least little understanding of neurological examinations.

    The first short test indicated that Judge Newman had below average cognitive ability. The second short test did indeed indicate that Judge Newman was cognitively capable ON THAT DAY. Perhaps then a full battery of tests including discussions with Judge Newman’s coworkers would have lead to a clear conclusion on her overall capacity. The same test asked for by the rest of the Federal Circuit.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 8, 2024 11:05 am


    Instead of asking if someone else read an obviously slanted piece, maybe you should have read the not one but two medical reports provided in rebuttal.

    This was a railroad job, pure and simple. The travesty and stain is not on Judge Newman.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 8, 2024 10:27 am

    S, clearly Judge Newman is fully compos mentis. Which means the Committee’s evidence shows that she’s just an abusive employer and should be held responsible for that instead.

  • [Avatar for Jake H]
    Jake H
    February 8, 2024 10:26 am

    Judge Newman abused a federal employee (accusing them of hacking into and spying on her emails and threatening them with not only the loss of their job but arrest) The most -benign- explanation is that this was a result of severe cognitive decline. Maybe I missed that but I haven’t seen Judge Newman’s defenders, including Mr. Quinn, address that at all. Telling. While maybe they don’t care about those who aren’t attorneys or litigants, that *alone* is sufficient to demand a *completely* independent review of her faculties. In fact, if that was your son or daughter, you’d be livid if she could get a pass with her hand-picked experts. Shame on anyone calling this result some sort of witch hunt.

  • [Avatar for S]
    February 8, 2024 10:14 am

    “even without any credible evidence of cognitive decline”

    Gene… Did you even read the Special Committee’s order? The testimony from multiple witnesses all noting obvious signs of cognitive decline? There is no slippery slope here. I feel terribly sorry for Judge Newman who received some obviously bad advice from her grifter counsel to ignore the request for medical examination. An unfortunate end to an otherwise distinguished career.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 8, 2024 08:58 am

    Jonestown was also “unanimous,” was it not?

  • [Avatar for Model 101]
    Model 101
    February 8, 2024 08:44 am

    Go Judge Newman!!!!!

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    February 7, 2024 09:34 pm

    “Claiming that the sky is falling is laughable.”

    Lapdogs are always unanimous (see, e.g., the 2977 members of China’s National People’s Congress).


  • [Avatar for Federal Circuit Practitioner]
    Federal Circuit Practitioner
    February 7, 2024 08:07 pm

    Every single decision at the Federal Circuit was unanimous.

    Likewise, the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability was unanimous (7-0).

    Claiming that the sky is falling is laughable.

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    February 7, 2024 07:29 pm

    Lapdog judges gonna lap.

    While a battle setback, the Honorable Newman’s righteous war goes on.

    As it should. As it must.