American Judges Association



Jon O. Newman

Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 54, Issue 1 (2018)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


In contrast to many memoirs now being published, Benched is not the story of a miserable childhood, a struggle against enormous odds, or escape from a dysfunctional family. Rather, its author, Judge Jon O. Newman, tells of his balanced and uncommonly productive life, much of it spent as a federal judge for the district court and then the court of appeals for the Second Circuit.

Judge Newman’s path to the federal appellate bench was paved with well-connected mentors, who seemed eager to provide him with opportunity after opportunity. However, the book shows that this “charmed” career was the result not just of luck, but of his obvious competence and deep willingness to take on thankless duties. Judge Newman attended Princeton University and Yale Law School and then served as a law clerk on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This clerkship led, remarkably, to an offer to serve as a clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren, even though he had not formally applied for the position. The section on his time at the Court provides a fascinating, if all-too-brief, glimpse of its workings at the time.