Tuesday, September 16, 2008

House Panel to Consider Impeachment of Federal Judge

Sept. 16, 2008 – 1:28 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to form a task force to consider the impeachment of a Louisiana federal judge.

In June, the Judicial Conference informed the House of evidence it has gathered that G. Thomas Porteous, a district judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, has committed perjury by signing false financial disclosure forms under oath.

The Judicial Conference also told the House of evidence that Porteous violated criminal laws and judicial ethical rules by presiding over a trial in which the lawyers involved gave him money.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., and ranking member Lamar Smith , R-Texas, jointly announced the vote on Tuesday.

“We take it very seriously when the governing body of the Judiciary sends us a referral for impeachment,” said Conyers. “Upon review, we believe this matter merits a full investigation.”

Smith added, “Public corruption at any level should not be tolerated, but it is especially egregious when a federal judge, who has been appointed for life, falls under allegations of bribery and unethical behavior.”

Impeachment of a federal judge is a rare event — the House has voted to do so only 13 times in its history. Of the 13 judges impeached, seven were convicted by the Senate and removed from office, four were acquitted and two resigned rather than face trial.

If impeached, Porteous would be the first federal judge to stand trial before the Senate since 1989, when two judges — Alcee L. Hastings of Florida and Walter L. Nixon of Mississippi — were removed from office after being convicted by lawmakers of perjury. Hastings is now a Democratic House member.

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