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House Judiciary Committee To Investigate Possible Impeachment of Federal District Judge:

The House Judiciary Committee is set to investigate Louisiana federal district Judge Thomas Porteous for possible impeachment on a variety of charges:

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee could form a task force as early as Wednesday to examine the case for impeachment against federal Judge Thomas Porteous.

Committee leaders called today for a vote to jumpstart the congressional inquiry into Porteous' alleged misdeeds, including accusations of bankruptcy fraud, perjury and wanton gambling. The move signals the first actions in Congress to examine the Porteous case since the Judicial Conference of the United States, led by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, recommended in June that the House go forward with impeachment proceedings.

It would be the first impeachment of a federal judge in almost 20 years.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. George Orwell on Judges Who Take Bribes From Both Sides in a Case:
  2. House Judiciary Committee To Investigate Possible Impeachment of Federal District Judge:
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
I can think of at least 50 other judges who deserve to be impeached and removed, based on violations of the due process rights of defendants, bias, and lack of due diligence in the handling of cases. Perhaps others on this forum can name some names.
9.16.2008 3:16pm
PLR:
Perhaps others on this forum can name some names.

Why, cat got your tongue?

Interesting that the lawyers on BOTH sides of a contested case in front of the judge gave him money so his son could have a proper bachelor party and wedding (which means Vegas, of course).
9.16.2008 3:32pm
S. (mail):
What do you know... from a profile of Judge Porteous in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 6/25/2006:
A Democrat, he was nominated to the federal bench for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1994 by President Clinton, on recommendation from Louisiana Sens. John Breaux and J. Bennett Johnston, both Democrats. He replaced Judge Robert Collins, who had resigned while serving prison time for bribery and facing impeachment.
9.16.2008 3:33pm
Constantin:
Things aren't all bad for Judge Porteous. Based on the most recent precedent, his punishment after being thrown off the bench would be a seat in Congress, a spot on the House Intelligence Committee, and a co-chairmanship of a major presidential campaign.
9.16.2008 3:33pm
Old33 (mail):
Things aren't all bad for Judge Porteous. Based on the most recent precedent, his punishment after being thrown off the bench would be a seat in Congress, a spot on the House Intelligence Committee, and a co-chairmanship of a major presidential campaign.
Ha, ha.

If the people of New Orleans see fit to send Judge Porteous to Congress, so be it. Ain't democracy grand?
9.16.2008 3:38pm
Curt Fischer:
On a related note, whatever happened to Judge Kent?
9.16.2008 3:39pm
one of many:
Jon, I can think of 2-3 off the top of my head who deserve it for actual crimes instead of just being poor quality judges, but that would be pointless since the probability of their being impeached is so small. I was amazed that the news story didn't mention who appointed Porteous to the Federal bench, I cannot recall a recent news story about possible wrongdoing by a judge which omits that piece of trivia. If he is impeached I'm sure it will be the bankruptcy fraud and bank fraud which are used to justify it, the bribes are too hard to prove.
9.16.2008 3:39pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
In case some are not already aware of it, there is an interesting site that allows persons to rate judges. See RateTheCourts.com. See how some of the judges you know are rated by others, and rate them yourself.
9.16.2008 3:44pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Louisiana is proud of having the best politicians and judges money can buy.

Nick
9.16.2008 3:44pm
Dave N (mail):
Since it is so late in the year, could the House impeach Judge Porteous this year and have the Senate conduct the impeachment trial next year, in a new Congress?

If so, would House members running for the Senate who voted for (or against) impeachment this year have any conflict of interest in passing judgment as a Senator?

My reading of the Constitution is that there is nothing to prevent the House from acting this year and the Senate next. Nor would there be a conflict for a House member running for the Senate to vote for the actual impeachment articles in the House and then deciding whether vote to convict as a Senator.
9.16.2008 3:44pm
deepthought:
Curt:

Well, he's been indicted:

The alleged victim, identified only as "Person A" in the indictment, worked as a deputy court clerk assigned to Kent's court, the document says. A complaint against Kent filed with a judicial review panel in May 2007 identifies the woman as Cathy McBroom.

During an alleged incident in March 2007, Kent "attempted to cause Person A to engage in contact between Person A's mouth and defendant Kent's penis by forcing Person A's head toward defendant Kent's groin area," the indictment charges.

Additionally, the court documents allege that Kent "did knowingly engage in sexual contact with another person without that other person's permission" by inappropriately touching the alleged victim "with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade" during the March 2007 incident and another in August 2003.

The indictment says that all of the alleged incidents occurred at the federal courthouse in Galveston, Texas, where Kent and McBroom worked. The Justice Department said in a statement that the FBI is involved in the investigation.

"After a very difficult 17 months, I feel like I have finally been validated," McBroom said in a statement released by her attorney Rusty Hardin. "I have listened and read with horror as Judge Kent's lawyer suggested that what happened to me was 'enthusiastically consensual.'"

"I am relieved to find that even federal judges are not above the law, and that sexual abuse in the workplace is never acceptable, no matter the status of the offender," the statement continued.

President George H.W. Bush appointed Kent to the federal bench in the Southern District of Texas in 1990. Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments.


Makes Judge Porteous, as noted a Clinton appointee, seem quaint (and oh so typical Louisiana).
9.16.2008 3:48pm
Arkady:

On a related note, whatever happened to Judge Kent?



U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent pleads innocent to sex crime charges

01:34 PM CDT on Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Associated Press


HOUSTON -- U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, vowing to bring a "horde of witnesses" in his defense, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he fondled a former case manager and tried to force her into a sexual act, the first time a federal judge has been charged with such crimes.

...

"I plead absolutely, unequivocally not guilty and look very much forward to a trial on the merits," a feisty Kent told 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edward Prado, brought to Houston to hear Kent's case.




From the Wiki article on Judge Kent:


Samuel B. Kent (born 1949, Denver, Colorado) is a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in the single-judge Galveston Division covering Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, and Matagorda Counties. He was nominated by George H.W. Bush on August 3, 1990, to a seat vacated by Hugh Gibson, confirmed by the Senate on September 28, 1990, and received his commission on October 1, 1990.
9.16.2008 3:55pm
A.S.:
Committee leaders called today for a vote to jumpstart the congressional inquiry into Porteous' alleged misdeeds, including accusations of bankruptcy fraud, perjury and wanton gambling.

Impeachment for wanton gambling? Really?
9.16.2008 3:59pm
John M. Perkins (mail):
My understanding is that while the House cannot impeach this term, then the Senate try next term, but ...

The House can impeach this term, early next term the House can reimpeach on a quick vote without new hearings, and then the Senate could try.

IOW, the terms are distinct, but the chambers can rely on institutional memory.

At least that's how it works for legislation.
9.16.2008 4:08pm
titus32:
Impeachment for wanton gambling? Really?

What is wanton gambling?
9.16.2008 4:25pm
Curt Fischer:
A quick legal question to the lawyery types: what exactly would an impeachment decide? Is it in effect a criminal trial? Or is it just a determination that Judge Porteous is no longer serving in "good behavior"? In theory, what standards need to be met in order to vote for impeachment? Are they different than if e.g. the President is impeached?
9.16.2008 4:48pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What is wanton gambling?

Waiving your jury trial rights in Judge Porteous' courtroom.
9.16.2008 4:51pm
Old33 (mail):
Since it is so late in the year, could the House impeach Judge Porteous this year and have the Senate conduct the impeachment trial next year, in a new Congress?

President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on December 19, 1998 by the 105th Congress.

His trial was conducted in the Senate in the 106th Congress, with the vote to acquit on all charges coming on February 12, 1999.
9.16.2008 5:13pm
Nunzio:
These guys should resign. They're disgraceful.
9.16.2008 5:14pm
Dave N (mail):
Old33,

That was my analysis without even thinking about the Clinton impeachment. However, I should have looked at the most obvious case first. Thanks for your post.
9.16.2008 5:31pm
Ilya Somin:
what exactly would an impeachment decide?

If impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, the judge would be removed from his position in the federal judiciary.
9.16.2008 5:41pm
Curt Fischer:


If impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, the judge would be removed from his position in the federal judiciary.



That's it? A vote to impeach is thus much less a condemnation of a person than is a juror's vote to convict.

If that's all impeachment does, I can't believe that various partisan Congresses have not used their impeachment power to force out more judges. I mean, couldn't you make a list of all the questionable judges, make a list of all the judges whose jurisprudential ideology you don't like, and target the overlap? Seems like a pretty safe weapon to me, especially since the removal of anyone below an appellate level is unlikely to make a big media splash.

BTW, thanks for the reply Prof. Somin.
9.16.2008 6:10pm
Michael Masinter (mail):
In addition to removal from office, Article One Section Three authorizes the Senate to impose as punishment disqualification from holding "any office of honor, trust or profit under the United State...."
9.16.2008 6:26pm
Norman Bates (mail):

Interesting that the lawyers on BOTH sides of a contested case in front of the judge gave him money so his son could have a proper bachelor party and wedding (which means Vegas, of course).

Perhaps in Louisiana the definition of an honest judge is one whose findings are based on fact and law after both sides have submitted equal bribes.
9.16.2008 6:51pm
mls (www):
what exactly would an impeachment decide?

If the House impeaches Judge Porteous, it will charge him with a high crime or misdemeanor, and the Senate will determine his guilt thereof. Some scholars have suggested that the standard for impeaching a judge should be lower than for the President or other civil officers in that a judge could be impeached simply for departing from good behavior, but this is not the approach that the House or Senate have taken. Of course, since there is no clear definition of what constitutes an impeachable offense, there is inevitably an element of discretion with regard to the circumstances of each case (i.e, a judge is not treated the same way as a President).
9.16.2008 9:40pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
"wanton gambling" Is there any other kind?
9.17.2008 1:41am