Federal Appeals Court Boots 96-Year-Old Judge
Whether or not this is warranted, it is cruel, unseemly and points to a need for term limits for federal judges.
Judge Pauline Newman, 96, has devoted her life to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit since her appointment by GOP President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
A leading patent authority, Judge Newman was unceremoniously booted off the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit this week by her younger colleagues. She can no longer decide court cases.
Something about this is reminiscent of the Arthur Miller play, Death of a Salesman, where Linda Loman says of her salesman husband:
“[H]e’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.”
In a unanimous order by active judges, the Federal Circuit claims Newman committed “serious misconduct” by refusing to submit to a special committee’s order that she be examined by a neurologist and undergo neuropsychological tests.
Judge Newman’s attorney, Gregory Dolin, called the suspension “flatly illegal,” noting that Judge Newman “obviously believes she’s perfectly competent, and her physicians have confirmed that.”
Whether or not the action is warranted, it is a brutal, painful, public exercise that promises to continue as costly litigation. And it is unnecessary.
The Federal Circuit appears to be testing whether it can effectively remove Judge Newman, rather than actually doing so by going through the cumbersome process of impeachment and the U.S. Congress.
Meanwhile, Judge Newman will continue to be paid and, presumably, the Federal Circuit will be down an active judge.
Like every institution that has ever existed, members of the federal judiciary are subject to infirmity, corruption and incompetence.
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