Recent public reports state that a proceeding under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act and the implementing Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings has been initiated naming Judge Pauline Newman as the subject judge. No member of the Judicial Council was a source of the information reported, which the reports attribute to persons who have read documents filed in the described proceeding.
Rule 23 imposes strong obligations of confidentiality regarding misconduct and disability proceedings. But Rule 23(b)(1) authorizes a judicial council to disclose the existence of a proceeding under the Rules when necessary or appropriate to maintain public confidence in the judiciary’s ability to redress misconduct or disability, and Rule 23(b)(8) authorizes a judicial council in special circumstances to disclose information about the consideration of a complaint under the Rules. The Commentary to Rule 23 explains: “Under subsection (b)(8), where a complainant or other person has publicly released information regarding the existence of a complaint proceeding, . . . a judicial council . . . may authorize the disclosure of information about the consideration of the complaint, including orders and other materials related to the complaint proceeding, in the interest of assuring the public that the judiciary is acting effectively and expeditiously in addressing the relevant complaint proceeding.”
The Judicial Council of this Circuit has determined that it would serve the important public interests articulated by the Rule for the Council to make this public statement. The Council confirms the existence of a proceeding under the Act and Rules naming Judge Newman as the subject judge. Reflecting events at the court, the Chief Judge, carrying out her obligations to the judiciary and the public under the Act and Rules, “identif[ied] a complaint” based on the determinations that there was “probable cause to believe that misconduct has occurred or that a disability exists” and that “no informal resolution [had been] achieved or is feasible.” Rule 5(a). The multi-stage process established by the Rules for investigating and adjudicating the allegations supporting such probable cause is now under way. That process—in which the rights of any subject judge are protected, there are opportunities for voluntary resolution, and allegations can be added when warranted—involves first a Special Committee of judges within the Circuit (Rules 12–17) and then the Judicial Council (Rules 18–20), with review available by the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability (Rules 21–22). The Chief Judge, the Special Committee, and the members of the Council, who all recognize and admire the lifelong contributions of the justly esteemed Judge Newman, are committed to fulfilling their difficult obligations in this process.
In the interest of transparency, the Council attaches two orders from the proceeding, with appropriate redactions, to add information about some of the allegations under consideration. The March 24, 2023 Order and the April 13, 2023 Order are available on the court’s website.
*For purposes of this statement, the Judicial Council does not include Circuit Judge Pauline Newman.