Senate Convicts New Orleans District Judge

Posted December 8, 2010 at 10:41am

The Senate voted Wednesday to remove U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. from the bench, making him the 19th person tried by the Senate and just the eighth federal judge to be impeached.

The Senate found the New Orleans federal judge guilty of all four articles of impeachment. Each of the four articles required a two-thirds vote to pass. The Senate also voted 94-2 to disqualify Porteous from ever holding public office in the U.S.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who had voted to bring charges against Porteous while serving in the House, recused himself from the impeachment proceedings in the Senate, citing a conflict of interest. The House adopted the same four articles of impeachment against Porteous in March.

Porteous was alleged to have been involved in a kickback scheme with a law firm whose case he presided over, to have accepted cash and other perks while he was a state judge in the 1980s, to have falsified his identity while considering a case and to have lied to Congress when he was going through his judicial confirmation nearly 16 years ago.

President Pro Tem Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) presided over the chamber during the two days of the proceedings, which included Members voting from their desks Wednesday. Two members of the House panel, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who served a part of the House prosecution team, delivered remarks Tuesday in favor of impeachment. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, the head of Porteous’ legal team, delivered a lengthy defense to Senators in what is one of the few times that a non-Senator is allowed to speak at length on the floor.

A 12-member Senate impeachment panel, led by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), completed its own two weeks of proceedings in September. The panel compiled its findings in a 74-page report of “neutral summary of the evidence” for Senators to review.

Porteous had been suspended from the bench during the hearings, the Senate’s first since 1999, when Members considered whether to impeach President Bill Clinton, who was found not guilty. Last year, the Senate called off the impeachment trial of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, who resigned from office before proceedings began.