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Fed Circuit confirms Newman misconduct probe

Court of Appeals Federal Circuit Lafayette Park Washington DC
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC

Circuit Judge Pauline Newman is ‘slow’ to issue opinions and has refused to cooperate with a complaint over her performance, the court confirmed on Friday

Pauline Newman, a judge at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, is facing a judicial complaint over her alleged inability to carry out her functions and a refusal to cooperate, the court confirmed on Friday, April 14.

Newman, who is 95, allegedly takes longer than average to issue opinions, and longer than is allowed under court rules to vote for other judges’ opinions, despite her working with a reduced caseload.

The complaint, first reported by IPWatchdog and made under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, alleged Newman either had a disability or had engaged in misconduct. The court’s judicial council confirmed the news on Friday.

On Thursday, April 13, Chief Judge Kimberly Moore ordered an expanded investigation into Newman’s alleged refusal to cooperate with an earlier complaint.

According to the order, Newman stated she “was not interested in receiving any documents” related to the complaint and instructed her mailroom staff not to accept them.

Judge Pauline Newman
Pauline Newman

In the original complaint, issued on March 24, Moore found that Newman took much longer to issue opinions than her fellow judges despite having had a reduced caseload since 2022 due to health concerns.

From October 2021 to March 2023, Newman took an average of 199 days to issue opinions compared to a court average of 60 days, Moore found.

Newman also frequently took 30 days or more to vote on colleagues’ opinions, despite a court-imposed deadline of five business days.

In March, Newman allegedly rejected Moore’s suggestion that she take senior status, which would have meant partial retirement.

Responding to that suggestion, Newman allegedly claimed that she was the “only person who cared about the patent system and innovation policy”.

Moore said she was also aware of complaints that Newman had allowed one of her law clerks to “exhibit unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour”.

The order did not include any further detail on the alleged inappropriate behaviour by one of Newman’s law clerks.

Managing IP named Newman as one of the most influential people in IP in 2018.

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