At age 96, the oldest federal judge in the US was taken off the job on Wednesday because there were questions about her mental health. This case reminded people of the debates about older leaders like Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
Pauline Newman has been a judge on an appeals court since 1984. Her colleagues said that she worked too slowly and often seemed confused, angry, and rude, which made them worry about her “disability,” according to a decision by the Judicial Council of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
It said that interviews with staff “provided overwhelming evidence that Judge Newman may be having serious mental problems,” such as memory loss, not being able to understand, being confused, and not being able to do basic jobs.
Even though Newman’s task has been cut, it takes him four times as long as other judges to decide on cases before the court.
The council said it was suspending Newman for a year because she wouldn’t let a neurologist and therapist picked by the council check her mental health. If she doesn’t change her mind, the suspension could be extended.
However, Newman, who hasn’t been able to review cases since April, has claimed that the procedures against her were improper and that they might have been a result of other judges’ personal animosity towards her.
She backed her argument with the results of examinations by specialists she herself chose.
“Judge Newman demonstrated no substantial emotional, medical, or psychiatric disability that would interfere with the continuation of her longstanding duties as a judge,” psychiatrist Regina Carney said.
The case comes at a time when more and more old leaders, like President Joe Biden, who is 80, and his rival Donald Trump, who is 77, raise questions about their ability to do their jobs.