US House votes to impeach federal judge

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] voted [H Res 1031 materials] Thursday to impeach federal judge Thomas Porteous [official profile] of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website]. The case will now proceed to the US Senate [official website] where a two-thirds majority is required to convict Porteous of committing high crimes and misdemeanors while in office, specifically perjury and accepting bribes from lawyers. The investigation of Porteous was opened [JURIST report] by the US House Judiciary Committee [official website] in 2008. The committee unanimously approved a resolution creating a task force to conduct the inquiry, which was the first of a sitting federal judge in nearly 20 years.

After an investigation [report text, PDF] by a special committee, the Judicial Conference found "substantial evidence" that Porteous had signed false financial disclosure forms, falsified statements in a personal bankruptcy proceeding, made false representations to secure a bank loan, and violated criminal laws and ethical rules [texts] by soliciting and receiving "cash and other things of value" from lawyers in a bench trial over which he was presiding. Porteous's decision in that case, In re Liljeberg enters v. Lifemark Hospitals, was later partially reversed [opinion text] by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website], which last week publicly reprimanded Porteous [text, PDF]. The US Constitution gives the House the power to impeach [academic backgrounder] "all civil Officers of the United States" on suspicion of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Thirteen federal judges have been impeached [FJC backgrounder], of which seven have been convicted.

 

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