U.S. Chief Justice in hospital after seizure

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Doctors who examined U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts after he had a seizure at his Maine vacation home said they found no tumour, stroke or any other explanation for the episode.

Judge Roberts, 52, had a similar, unexplained attack in 1993.

The seizure Monday caused the chief justice to fall on a dock, where he suffered minor scrapes, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said. She said he was kept overnight at the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport for observation.

Hospital officials said Tuesday they would not comment further on Judge Roberts' situation and they referred all calls to the Supreme Court, where there was no early update on his condition.

By definition, someone who has had more than one seizure without any other cause is determined to have epilepsy, said Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a Washington Hospital Center neurologist who is not involved in the Roberts case.

Whether Judge Roberts will need anti-seizure medications to prevent another is something he and his doctor will have to decide. But after two seizures, the likelihood of another at some point is greater than 60 per cent.

Epilepsy is merely a term for a seizure disorder, but it is a loaded term because it makes people think of lots of seizures, cautioned Dr. Edward Mkrdichian, a neurosurgeon at the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch.

Still, Dr. Mkrdichian said anyone who has had two otherwise unexplained seizures is at high risk for a third, and that he puts such patients on anti-seizure medications.

“Having two seizures so many years apart without any known culprit is going to be very difficult to figure out,” agreed Dr. Max Lee of the Milwaukee Neurological Institute.

The incident occurred about 2 p.m. on a dock near Judge Roberts's summer home in Port Clyde on Maine's Hupper Island. He had just gotten off a boat and was returning home after running errands, Ms. Arberg said.

Judge Roberts was taken by private boat to the mainland and then transferred to an ambulance, St. George Fire Chief Tim Polky said.

“He was conscious and alert when they put him in the rescue (vehicle),” Mr. Polky said.

Once at the hospital, he underwent a “thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern,” Ms. Arberg said.

Named to the court by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2005, Judge Roberts is the youngest justice on a court in which the senior member, John Paul Stevens, is 87. Mr. Bush was informed of the hospitalization by his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, the White House said.

Judge Roberts is the father of two young children.

Larry Robbins, a Washington lawyer who worked with Judge Roberts at the Justice Department in 1993, said he drove Judge Roberts to work for several months after the seizure that year. Mr. Robbins said Judge Roberts never mentioned what the problem was and he never heard of it happening again.

In 2001, Judge Roberts described his health as “excellent,” according to Senate Judiciary Committee records.

He became chief justice after the death of William Rehnquist in September, 2005, although Mr. Bush had first chosen him to take Sandra Day O'Connor's seat when she announced her retirement earlier that year.

Judge Roberts has led the Supreme Court to a more conservative stance. Helped by Justice Samuel Alito, who won confirmation in early 2006, conservatives have won twice as often as they lost on the Roberts-led court. The 2006-07 term brought limits on abortion rights, restrictions on school integration programs and greater freedom for political advertising.

Judge Roberts earlier served as an appellate judge in Washington and spent more than a decade before that as a lawyer at the Hogan and Hartson law firm, where he specialized in arguing cases before the Supreme Court.

Roberts also served in the Reagan and Bush administrations in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a clerk for Judge Rehnquist after graduating from Harvard Law School.



Our commentary in the Globe and Mail.


Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada wrote:

Many judges have "seizures", Take Justice Robert N. Fornier of Hailebury Ontario, he becomes seized with blowing air to lift his toupee, picking his teeth and the only way to get his attention is to talk about golf. Justice Robert N. Fournier is also regularly seized with feminist ideas that because a man can't lactate then he should not have custody or access. Then there is Justice Denis Power of Ottawa, he becomes seized with matters that are not before him and issues family law restraining orders to Banish a father from the City of Kingston ( yes thats were all the non-judicial criminals are) to prevent litigation and prevent access, when another judge ordered an expedited trial and threw out an order that the father was a vexatious litigant. That order issued in 2001 is still valid today because Justice Denis Power issued an outrageous order for costs. That order cannot be varied until the costs are paid. Justice Denis Power was having a seizure of "court rage" when he made that decision. Quoting Justice Denis Power of Ottawa: " I can't do anything about the order of Justice Beatty but I can issue a restraining order and I will do so". Justice Denis Power leaves a trail of decisions that do indirectly what cannot be done directly in law and thats something the Judical Council should be seized of but everyone knows that don't become seized of complaints about judges. The reality is that it is not uncommon in Ontario for a prosecutor to drop a copy of Martin's criminal code on counsel bench to wake up a judge that looks like he has dozed off. One judge who won't be caught dozing off is Justice Stephen O'Neil. He promises to "read the materials over lunch", only problem is when I watched him that day, the materials remained under his soup while he did a lot of reading of the Globe and Mail which had absolutely no relation to the matter before him. The solution? Judges need psychological and medical screening. http://www.OttawaMensCentre.com