Judge Pauline Newman, the Federal Circuit’s oldest and longest-serving judge, wants the chief justice’s appeal of her fitness to remain on the bench to be moved to another district so a potentially more neutral venue can handle the unusual personal dispute. The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) filed a letter with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the US Supreme Court requesting the circuit be transferred, saying it would be better for the “public trust” to move the case out of the Federal Circuit. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts received a copy of the letter because he is the judge assigned to handle urgent matters in the Federal Circuit and because he is the head of the federal judiciary’s governing body.
The case raises difficult questions about the process of dealing with a judge’s alleged physical and mental disabilities and renews questions about lifetime judicial appointments. Chief Justice Kimberly Moore initiated the appeal and is in a position to rule on it. However, because Newman’s colleagues overseeing the investigation could be called “as fact witnesses in the proceedings, the letter questioned whether any federal district commission could “investigate or make any decision without creating the appearance of prejudice , if not of actual prejudice’.
Newman has been on a reduced workload since 2021 after passing out following a verbal altercation and experiencing at least one other health-related incident. Moore and other colleagues tried to persuade Newman to assume a senior status at court, but Newman “became angry” and did not accept Moore’s and other colleagues’ attempts at communication. Moore cited court staff’s concern that Newman “may be suffering from cognitive impairment (ie, attention, focus, confusion, and memory),” rendering her unable to perform case-related and administrative duties.
Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, Newman became the first direct appointee to the Federal Circuit in 1984. During his nearly 40 years on the court, Newman earned a reputation as one of the most prominent dissenters. Moore, nominated by President George W. Bush, succeeded Justice Sharon Prost as chief justice in 2021 and is known as a sharp questioner and colorful opinion writer.
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NCLA says its mission is “to curb the unlawful power of state and federal agencies,” according to its website. The group also demanded that Newman be immediately reinstated in her full capacity as a Federal District Judge, including access to a full complement of judicial staff and court technology and support systems.
Sources previously told Bloomberg Law that it’s hard to tell how the study will shake out, given the uncharted territory the complaint is venturing into. However, “internal tension” is one of the reasons a circuit transfer is requested. Because the Federal Circuit, considered the largest national patent tribunal outside the Supreme Court, was created after the merger of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the Appellate Division of the United States Court of Federal Claims, it is difficult to predict how this case will play out. .
In conclusion, the request by Judge Pauline Newman and the Alliance for New Civil Liberties to transfer the Chief Justice’s appeal of her fitness to remain on the bench to another circuit raises important questions about the process for dealing with a judge’s alleged physical and mental disabilities. It also highlights the issue of lifetime judicial appointments and the need for a neutral venue to hear personal disputes. As this internal legal battle continues, it remains to be seen how it will be resolved and its impact on the Federal Circuit and the broader judicial system.