Four D.C. Court of Appeals judges have sent a second letter to the District's judicial nominating commission stressing that their opposition to the renomination of Chief Judge Theodore R. Newman is based solely on personal and administrative conflicts.
The four judges, who in a previous letter took the unprecedented step of going public with their opposition to Newman, said in the new letter that differences over judicial philosophy had nothing to do with their action.
The heated battle between Newman and half of his colleagues on the city's highest court broke into the open early last week when Judges John W. Kern III, George R. Gallagher, Frank Q. Nebeker and Stanley S. Harris wrote the commission to urge that Newman be replaced as chief judge when his term expires next month. The letter suggested that either Judge William C. tPryor or Judge Catherine B. Kelly would be acceptable as a replacement.
The second letter, written last Friday, apparently was prompted by confusion surrounding the first, and suggestions that it might have been a strategic measure on the part of the four judges because Newman's generally liberal votes were unacceptable to them.
The new letter stressed that the judges' opposition to Newman is based on his leadership abilities and on his day-to-day administration of the court, and has nothing to do with his vote on cases before the court.
The judges wrote that the chief judge "has one vote as does each of his colleagues and his viewpoint gets as much consideration as the quality and reasoning behind it deserves. Beyond that," the letter continued, "the chief judge has a very important role which, for the good of the court, requires the qualities we outlined in our previous letter."
Newman notified the commission last week of his desire to be reappointed when his four-year term runs out. The 45-year-old chief judge was out of town last night and could not be reached for comment. Earlier he had said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the other judges' first letter.