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Federal Appeals Court Suspends Reagan-Appointed Judge in Rare Move

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A 96-year-old federal appeals court judge who was appointed to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan was suspended Wednesday in a rare move for jurists after her colleagues expressed concerns about her competency.

Judge Pauline Newman has been under investigation by her fellow jurists following concerns that she can no longer perform the duties assigned to her on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

According to a complaint about her suspension that was posted online, the judge has served with “distinction” for almost four decades.

But she refused to cooperate with a probe into her health, her peers said in the 73-page document.

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When asked to prove her fitness to serve by visiting a doctor and submitting to extensive cognitive testing, she allegedly refused.

“Unfortunately, earlier this year mounting evidence raised increasing doubts about whether Judge Newman is still fit to perform the duties of her office,” a summary of the suspension reads.

Newman was first approached last year with concerns about her ability to do her job, the complaint claimed.

“Multiple colleagues attempted to speak to Judge Newman about her fitness,” the summary said. “She refused to speak to them at all or quickly terminated an attempt to discuss the issue.”

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Throughout the process of determining her fitness for the bench, a court investigation included interviews with 20 of her colleagues.

“Those interviews, along with numerous emails sent by Judge Newman, provided overwhelming evidence that Judge Newman may be experiencing significant mental problems including memory loss, lack of comprehension, confusion, and an inability to perform basic tasks that she previously was able to perform with ease,” the complaint stated.

It was further alleged Newman has recently been observed struggling with basic tasks, which those around her said often caused her to become “frustrated, agitated, belligerent, and hostile.”

Newman has allegedly suffered from memory lapses that resulted in her threatening to jail or fire her staffers.

Her behavior was also described at times as “demonstratively angry” and “paranoid.”

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Newman’s peers also expressed regret over her suspension, citing her exemplary career.

“We are acutely aware that this is not a fitting capstone to Judge Newman’s exemplary and storied career,” the complaint said. “We all would prefer a different outcome for our friend and colleague.”

Reuters reported Newman has defended her cognitive abilities and she has filed a lawsuit to reverse the suspension.

For now, the judge is barred from taking on any new cases for at least a year, or until she agrees to be evaluated and it is determined she is fit to serve.

Newman’s suspension comes amid a larger conversation nationwide about age and public service.

President Joe Biden, for example, would be 86 if he were re-elected next year and completed a second term.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, 90, will retire in January 2025. She has ignored calls from both Democrats and Republicans for her to resign immediately amid a year of health concerns and questions about her cognitive abilities.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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