Judge Pauline Newman, a highly regarded individual known for her achievements and legal know-how in the field of patents, has been placed on leave for a year…yet she has refused to stop working.
As concerns about Newman’s mental health grew, her coworkers unanimously decided to suspend her.
A public debate about Newman’s cognitive capacities and her competence to remain a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit led to the suspension. The court’s order stated that more than 20 interviews with court employees and a review of Newman’s emails revealed “overwhelming evidence” that she had “significant mental issues,” including memory loss, diminished comprehension, confusion, and a noticeable decline in her ability to carry out basic tasks.
The order lists examples of Newman acting “belligerent and hostile” and having “dysfunctional” interactions with the judge when given simple tasks.
The judgment further noted that Newman had engaged in significant misconduct by disregarding a special committee’s direction that she submit to a neurologist’s examination and cognitive testing in order to avoid suspension.
According to the order, Newman’s coworkers originally tried to resolve their concerns internally, but the judge continually failed to participate or abruptly ended the meetings. Additionally, Judge Kimberly A. Moore attempted to meet with Newman and shared a draft complaint explaining the issues, but requests for a meeting were turned down.
The order expressed regret that Newman’s illustrious career was not appropriately ended by the suspension. Ronald Reagan appointed Newman to her position in 1984, and since then, she has significantly influenced the growth of American intellectual property law.