Profile of Judge Jon O. Newman

Law & Society
Shannon Furtak

“If Jon Newman were a sports figure, he would be the perennial winner of the most valuable player award for his contributions to the administration of justice.”
-Robert A. Katzmann, Chief Judge of the Second Circuit

Judge Jon O. Newman is the author of Hein’s top-selling book of 2017, Benched, but he’s also a well-known and prolific figure in the judicial community. So much so, in fact, that Benched has a foreword by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and it was recently reviewed by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in the prestigious New York Review of Books:

“…in his autobiography, Benched, the distinguished federal appellate judge Jon O. Newman seems to embody what scientists have described as the fifth basic taste—umami, meaning savory or, as appropriate here, meaty.”

About Jon O. Newman

Judge Newman earned his B.A. from Princeton University in 1953 and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1956. Following law school, he clerked first for Judge George T. Washington of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and later for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Newman entered private practice in 1958 until 1960 while also serving as a graduate instructor at Trinity College. He served as special counsel to Connecticut’s governor in 1960 and executive assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1961-1962. Next, Judge Newman joined the staff of U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff; later, in 1964, he became the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut until 1969. He ventured back into private practice until his eventual nomination by President Richard Nixon to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut in 1971. He was confirmed by the Senate on December 11, 1971.

In 1979, Judge Newman was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where he remains today. He served as Chief Judge from 1993 to 1997 and assumed senior status in July of 1997.

In December of 2016, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan presented Judge Newman with the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award, which is the American judiciary’s longest running and highest honor.

Scholarly articles by Judge Newman are available in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library. Choose the Advanced Search option located beneath the main search bar and enter Jon O. Newman in the Author/Creator field, then click search:

To view Judge Newman’s author profile, click his name from within search results or from within the table of contents after entering any of his articles.

Judge Newman currently resides in Sarasota, Florida with his wife Ann Z. Leventhal and their shih tzu, Brenda. He also spends several months each year in Manhattan where, at 85, he continues hearing appeals as a senior judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Abele v. Markle

In 1972, Judge Newman had been a federal judge for only two months when he cast the deciding vote in a 2-1 decision which held that a Connecticut statute from 1860 prohibiting abortion was an unconstitutional invasion of a woman’s right to privacy without a compelling state interest in preventing abortion. This led to the creation of a new anti-abortion statute which prohibited all abortions unless the life of the mother was at stake. This statute was also declared to be unconstitutional by the same three judges in a 2-1 vote.

The full text of the Abele v. Markle decisions are available in HeinOnline via Fastcase:

“Abele I”: 342 F. Supp. 800 (April 18, 1972)
“Abele II”: 351 F. Supp. 224 (September 20, 1972)

Judge Newman theorized that the state’s interest in preserving the life of a fetus could not override the mother’s constitutional right to control her own body, and her right to decide to bear a child until the moment when the fetus could survive outside the womb. This was a somewhat original legal theory and it was later adopted by the Supreme Court in its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which is available in HeinOnline’s U.S. Supreme Court Library.

About Benched

Benched, which is humorously subtitled Abortion, Terrorists, Drones, Crooks, Supreme Court, Kennedy, Nixon, Demi Moore, and Other Tales from the Life of a Federal Judge, is a critically-acclaimed memoir unlike any previously written by a federal judge. In addition to a favorable review in New York Review of Books, popular legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin had this to say: “In Benched, one of the nation’s most distinguished judges peels back the curtain and reveals how he’s done his job. Judge Newman’s candid and engaging book will illuminate lawyers and non-lawyers alike.”

Benched reveals fascinating experiences from Judge Newman’s life in state and national politics, as a federal prosecutor, and as a federal judge with more than four decades of experience. The book offers an inside look at what judges really do and illuminates key decisions dealing with terrorism, abortion, and more. It also proposes 20 provocative improvements for the administration of justice.

Order Your Copy Today!


Benched: Abortion, Terrorists, Drones, Crooks, Supreme Court, Kennedy, Nixon, Demi Moore, and Other Tales from the Life of a Federal Judge
Item #: 1004941
ISBN: 9780837740492
Pages: viii, 306p.
1 Volume…….$29.95
Published: Getzville; William S. Hein & Co., Inc.; 2017


Benched is also available on Amazon, where it’s received another round of great reviews, including this one from University of California Law School Professor Peter Mennell:

“I highly recommend this book for all judges, law clerks, legislative staffers, lawyers, and especially law students and prospective law students. This concise volume insightfully captures how legislation is made and what prosecutors, district judges, and appellate judges do (or at least should do). It is also a model of clear and cogent writing. Judge Newman boils down the essence of judging and case management to the core elements. He uses historic and inherently interesting cases, interspersed with amusing anecdotes, to capture and maintain the reader’s attention.”


To learn more about Judge Jon O. Newman, check out his appearance on C-SPAN’s program called “After Words.” His hour-long interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal will air several times during the month of January.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *