Renowned Federal Judge, 96, Faces Yearlong Suspension For Refusing to Retire Judge Pauline Newman, a highly respected figure in patent law, has been suspended for one year by her colleagues due to mounting concerns about her mental fitness.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • The suspension comes after an unanimous decision by her colleagues.
  • Newman's refusal to undergo neuropsychological tests, as directed by a special committee, was deemed as misconduct.

Judge Pauline Newman, a highly esteemed figure renowned for her contributions and expertise in patent law, has been suspended for one year…for refusing to stop working.

Newman, 96, was suspended in a unanimous decision by her colleagues after mounting concerns about her mental fitness.

The suspension follows a public dispute over Newman's cognitive capabilities and her suitability to continue serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The order noted that over 20 interviews conducted with court staff members, along with the examination of emails sent by Newman, yielded "overwhelming evidence" suggesting the presence of "significant mental issues," including memory loss, a diminished capacity for comprehension, confusion, and a notable decline in her ability to execute basic tasks.

The order cites instances wherein Newman, when presented with basic tasks, became "belligerent and hostile," and that interactions with the judge became "dysfunctional."

Newman's suspension comes as a result of mounting concerns over her mental fitness. Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg | Getty Images.

The order also stated that Newman's refusal to adhere to a special committee's directive for her to undergo a neurologist's examination and neuropsychological tests (which warned of suspension should she not comply) was deemed a grave form of misconduct.

Newman's colleagues initially attempted to address their concerns internally, the order states, but the judge consistently declined to engage or abruptly terminated the discussions. Additionally, Judge Kimberly A. Moore shared a draft complaint outlining the concerns and made efforts to meet with Newman, but requests for a meeting were declined.

The order expressed regret that the suspension was not a fitting end to Newman's admirable career. Appointed to her position by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, Newman has made significant contributions to the development of intellectual property law in the U.S.

"We are acutely aware that this is not a fitting capstone to Judge Newman's exemplary and storied career," the order stated, per NYT. "We all would prefer a different outcome for our friend and colleague."

Madeline Garfinkle

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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