Chief Justice Roberts suffers seizure in Maine

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Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suffered a seizure at his summer home in Maine yesterday, causing a fall that resulted in minor scrapes, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arber said.

He will remain in a Maine hospital overnight.

“It’s my understanding he’s fully recovered,” said Christopher Burke, a spokesman for Penobscot Bay Medical Center, where Chief Justice Roberts was taken.

Chief Justice Roberts, 52, was taken by ambulance to the medical center, where he underwent a “thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern,” Ms. Arberg said, adding that the jurist had a similar episode in 1993.

Doctors called yesterday’s incident “a benign idiopathic seizure,” Ms. Arberg said. White House officials described the January 1993 episode as an “isolated, idiosyncratic seizure.”

A benign seizure means that doctors performed an MRI and other tests to conclude there was no tumor, stroke or other explanation. In addition, doctors would have quickly ruled out simple explanations, such as dehydration or low blood sugar.

By definition, someone who has had more than one seizure without any such explanation is diagnosed with epilepsy, said Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a neurologist at Washington Hospital Center, who is not involved in Chief Justice Roberts‘ medical incident.

Whether he will need anti-seizure medication 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 percent.

“When it’s going to occur, obviously nobody knows,” Dr. Schlosberg said.

The incident occurred at about 2 p.m. on a dock near the home in Port Clyde, on Maine’s Hupper Island. Port Clyde, which is part of the town of St. George, is about 90 miles by car northeast of Portland, midway up the coast of Maine.

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

“He was conscious and alert when they put him in the rescue [vehicle],” Chief Polky said.

Named to the court by President Bush in 2005, Chief Justice Roberts is the youngest justice on a court in which the senior justice, John Paul Stevens, is 87. Mr. Bush was informed of the hospitalization by his chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, White House officials said.

Chief Justice Roberts is the father of two young children.

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

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