Clash over US judge’s competency probe heads into mediation

US Judge Pauline Newman’s lawsuit against her colleagues on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was ordered into mediation on Tuesday, as both sides seek to resolve an unusually public legal battle between federal judges.

Thomas Griffith, a retired judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was appointed to preside over an “informal mediation,” according to a court filing.

Newman, 96, sued her colleagues in May seeking to halt an investigation into her competency as a judge and her refusal to cooperate with the probe. She asked a Washington, D.C. federal judge last month to end a suspension imposed by her colleagues who questioned her mental fitness and said she struggled to promptly resolve cases.

Newman, a patent law specialist, has said she is fit to serve and accused her colleagues of unlawfully sidelining her from the court while the investigation remains ongoing. Lawyers for Newman have said she will not cooperate with the investigation unless it is transferred to another appeals court.

U.S. District Judge Christopher “Casey” Cooper, who is presiding over Newman’s lawsuit, urged both sides to consider mediation at a court hearing last week, noting that the dispute had become personal.

Cooper said in Thursday’s order that he would halt impending deadlines in the lawsuit while mediation takes place, but directed both sides to provide an update on the talks by August 2.

Newman and at least one member of the three-judge committee investigating her were directed to participate in negotiations. Reuters.

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