Wednesday, December 08, 2010

US Senate Impeaches Louisiana Federal Judge On Corruption

U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous of Louisiana was found guilty on four articles of impeachment, making him just the eighth federal judge in history to be removed by Congress.
House prosecutors laid out a damaging case against Porteous, 63, a New Orleans native who was a state judge before winning appointment to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The prosecutors said gambling and drinking problems led him to begin accepting cash and other favors from attorneys and bail bondsmen with business before his court.

He also was accused of lying to Congress during his judicial confirmation and filing for bankruptcy under a false name.

The Senate voted unanimously to convict on one count and with a strong majority for each of the other three.

Porteous' lead attorney, Jonathan Turley, acknowledged much of the behavior, saying the judge made mistakes but arguing that they were mostly personal failings that didn't meet the "high crimes and misdemeanor" standard for impeachment. Turley also argued that many of the practices - such as accepting favors and expensive meals - were common in the Louisiana legal community.

But House prosecutors said the evidence showed a decades-long pattern of corruption. They told senators that allowing Porteous to remain on the bench would erode public confidence in the courts and make a mockery of the federal judiciary.

The Senate closed the chamber for more than two hours Tuesday night to deliberate on his fate. The Senate made its decision Wednesday in a solemn ceremonial vote in which senators sat at their desks and rose when called, saying "guilty" or "not guilty."
Porteous was truly deserving of removal despite what his lawyer, Jonathan Turley, had sought to portray the issue as one involving cases before he joined the federal bench and that they didn't rise to the high crimes and misdemeanor charges requirement.

Porteous debased the legal profession and the bench by enabling and engaging in unlawful activities from the bench - the appearance of taking gifts from lawyers before ruling on their cases in their favor is dispositive.

He lied at every step of the way, including during his Senate confirmation in 1994. Indeed, this was a long time coming.

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