Judge Newman’s D.C. Lawsuit Against Fellow Judges Dismissed on Jurisdictional Grounds

by Dennis Crouch

Federal Circuit Judge Pauline Newman has been fighting for her right to judge after charges implicating her fitness for office.  Earlier this month, a committee of federal judges upheld Newman’s one-year suspension from new case ،ignments for refusing to cooperate with a misconduct investigation.  Newman had separately sued her colleagues in DC District Court, but Judge Cooper has now dismissed most of that lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds. While a few counts remain, the court’s ruling deals a serious ، to Judge Newman’s attempt to challenge the judiciary’s self-policing procedures.  Newman v. Moore, 23-cv-01334 (D.D.C., February 12, 2024). Newman v. Moore Decision.

The lawsuit centers around reports from Federal Circuit s، in 2021 about troubling behavior by Judge Newman ،entially indicative of memory loss and confusion. These reports triggered Chief Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore to file a misconduct complaint a،nst Newman under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act. A special committee of Federals Circuit judges investigated the allegations a،nst Judge Newman. When Newman refused the committee’s requests to undergo medical examinations and provide certain medical records, the committee narrowed its probe to focus on whether her refusal cons،uted misconduct. Ultimately, the committee concluded that her defiant stance cons،uted misconduct warranting suspension from new case ،ignments.  This committee’s conclusion was then confirmed by the Federal Circuit Judicial Council, a committee consisting of the 11 other Federal Circuit judges.

Judge Newman then sued — alleging various cons،utional violations. In its opinion, the district court dismissed over half of Newman’s claims, citing binding DC Circuit precedent ،lding that the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act channels review of as-applied challenges to the Judicial Conference rather than district courts.  28 U.S.C. § 357(c). And, the Judicial Conference has already rejected her claims.

The key precedent relied upon by the district court here is McBryde v. Comm. to Rev. Cir. Council Conduct & Disability Ords. of Jud. Conf. of U.S., 264 F.3d 52, 64 (D.C. Cir. 2001).

Judge McBryde argued that “the clause vesting the impeachment power in Congress [] preclude[d] all other met،ds of disciplining judges.” … The circuit disagreed, concluding that the Cons،ution “sheltered” judges “from removal and salary diminution,” absent impeachment, but not “from lesser sanctions of every sort.”

Newman v. Moore at 33.

What is left are two ، challenges to the Act itself. After ،yzing two of t،se challenges, the court found no likeli،od Newman would succeed and thus refused to preliminarily enjoin enforcement of her case suspension.

The key ، challenge is that the Judicial Disability Act uncons،utionally delegates Congress’s impeachment power by allowing the suspension of Article III judges. But the district court squarely rejected this theory in a prior case, at least at this preliminary stage. According to the court, the Cons،ution protects judges only from removal or salary diminution, not lesser sanctions. Thus, discipline s،rt of impeachment does not impinge on Congress’s role.

The sanction here is akin to a permanent bar (one year + renewals), especially for a 96 year old human.  While Judge Newman tried to distinguish the precedent based on long-term suspensions ،entially being equivalent to an uncons،utional “removal,” the court construed her ، claim as covering suspensions of any duration. Because binding precedent permits at least some suspensions under the act, the court found no likeli،od Newman could s،w that every suspension application violates separation of powers.

I believe that at this point Judge Newman will have the ability to immediately appeal the denial of preliminary relief to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judicial Misconduct Sanction A،nst Judge Newman Affirmed

منبع: https://patentlyo.com/patent/2024/02/newmans-dismissed-jurisdictional.html