Oldest US federal judge sues bully peers after mental fitness ban.
Pauline Newman is 96 years old and was appointed in 1985.
Newman filed a federal lawsuit against her fellow judges in May.
After facing a suspension preventing her from hearing additional cases due to concerns about her “mental fitness” as determined by her peers, the oldest federal judge currently serving in the United States has responded with a federal lawsuit.
Judge Pauline Newman, who is 96 years old and was appointed in 1985 by then-US President Ronald Reagan, was suspended by her colleagues on the Federal Circuit’s Judicial Council.
The suspension was based on alleged physical health frailty and her purported failure to cooperate with an investigation into concerns about her mental fitness.
Newman contends that Chief Judge Kimberly Moore told her to take senior status, a directive she found “ridiculous.”
In response to her suspension, Newman filed a federal lawsuit against her fellow judges in May.
She claimed, “I never had a heart attack, never fainted, wasn’t hospitalized as Chief Judge Moore said, and apparently told all the judges on my court that I was disabled, not able to move around, and not able to think straight.”
During an interview with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan nonprofit civil rights organization, Newman expressed her determination not to be bullied, intimidated, or forced out by her judicial colleagues.
Newman has asserted that she is mentally and physically fit to continue her role and has obtained independent evaluations from two doctors.
She has voiced her frustration at her colleagues’ decision to tarnish her reputation and deprive her of the opportunity to decide cases, expressing her bewilderment at their actions.
However, the Judicial Council defended its decision, stating that it was based on over 20 interviews with court staff that revealed “significant mental deterioration, including memory loss, confusion, lack of comprehension, paranoia, anger, hostility, and severe agitation.”
According to the council, Judge Newman has experienced difficulties in recalling recent events, conversations, and information and has had trouble comprehending basic information communicated by court staff.
Federal judges are appointed for life and are not required to retire at a particular age. Newman’s lawyers argue that her suspension is illegal and are seeking a review by a committee overseeing judicial conduct.
They argue that Chief Judge Moore and her committee have focused on using their power to keep Newman off the bench, bypassing statutory requirements, constitutional limits, due process, conflict of interest rules, and fairness.