The third day of the Senate trial for United States District Court Judge Thomas Porteous starts today. The witnesses include a former judge and former prosecutor. We are likely to start our case on Wednesday . . .
Much of this testimony will center on Article III of the impeachment. I have attached our motions to dismiss Article Three and our general summary if you are following the case.
Porteous – Motion to Dismiss Article III
Porteous Pre-Trial Statement
Porteous Pre-Trial Statement – Exhibits
109 thoughts on “PORTEOUS IMPEACHMENT TRIAL — DAY THREE”
Do be careful when speaking the names of others!
the net is not a private place.
written words have a million ways that they can be interpreted by those who read ‘snippets’.
the eyes that read can be connected to a million bodies with tongues and hands that are truly ‘anonymous’…..
a friendly ( and perhaps misplaced) caution…
When I was in Law School I used to go drinking with my professors. One of them was Ralph Naders roommate in undergrad and law school. He had some funny things to tell when he argued cases before the Sct court and reverence for the court, lets say was a contradiction. I think one of the reasons that he quit private practice was Earl Warren…he did not think too kindly of him and even said so on the record…..or at least thats what he said….
Not watching. No tv in Austin where I am. I have to set that up today. Glad daughter has an awareness of the alcoholism in the legal profession that you alluded to, AY.
I am getting the sense that this is a Corporate witch hunt, you may feel he is an SOB and I may too….but his personal life outside of the Federal Judiciary should be left alone. As you all are aware addictions come in many way which ultimately affect ones personal life. This is the ultimate insult to one mans life, instead of persecuting him, help should be offered to assist him in dealing with life without addiction.
In the legal profession alcoholism is the number one substance of choice….gambling is the name of the game with every client taken….then…it can become a way of life….
FROM THE TULANE LINK.COM 9-21-2008
History on the side of accused judge; Only 7 have been removed from office
September 21, 2008
U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous admits he came to depend on alcohol to get through the day and that he was addicted to gambling. He does not deny that he submitted false statements in his personal bankruptcy, on his annual financial disclosure forms and on his application for a bank loan. He concedes that lawyer friends bailed him out of one financial jam after another over the years, even when they had cases pending in his court.
His own attorney said Porteous deserves the public reprimand he received this month from his superiors.
But Porteous now faces the prospect of the ultimate sanction, impeachment and possible removal from office, in an arena where the standard for conviction is high and the guidelines for booting a judge are open to considerable interpretation.
Federal judges are appointed for life, and the Constitution makes removal of one almost impossible. That’s to keep one branch of government from unduly influencing another. Should the House of Representatives approve articles of impeachment against Porteous, he would advance to trial in the Senate, where two-thirds of the members present must agree before he can be convicted and kicked off the bench.
To reach that point, members of Congress will have determined that Porteous ran afoul of an eight-word phrase in Article II of the Constitution, where removal from office is required for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
It is a phrase that has long confounded scholars.
“Now, that’s been a problem for more than 200 years, and I don’t think it’s one we can solve,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
Porteous’ professional future rests with a special 12-member task force appointed this past week by the House Judiciary Committee. The group has until Jan. 2 to investigate, after which the full committee and then the full House could consider the case.
His superiors, on the Judicial Council of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans [PDF] and the Judicial Conference of the United States [PDF], already have called for his impeachment. But Porteous, his defense team and four dissenting 5th Circuit judges say his caddish behavior is irrelevant when it comes to the Constitution. For the most part, they say, he gambled, drank and lied in his private affairs — not as a judge.
Removing him from office for what they consider private behavior could serve to tighten scrutiny of federal judges, legal analysts say. Only seven judges have been impeached and convicted in U.S. history, and only two of them for misconduct committed outside their official capacity on the bench, they said.
Porteous, 62, of Metairie, would be the third.
As a long time watcher of Missouri politics (albeit from the Kansas side of Kansas City), you have my complete sympathy on McCaskill. I’ve always thought she was a bit of a tool, if you’ll pardon the language. 😀
(As a personal aside, I hope all is well on the home health front. It’s tough to be sick, but it’s also tough to have ill loved ones.)
McCaskill certainly does not handle power well. And there are times I don’t think she’s too bright. You have my complete sympathy and I understand your embarrassment as the Orange man, Boehner, although not my representative, only lives 150 miles west of my home here in Ohio.
Frank Mascagni III,
I was completely new to the medium of blogging a year ago and these fine folk took me in, clothed me, fed me, and educated me. It’s a lively and entertaining group … teachers, authors, musicians, nurses, business men and women, LEO’s, poets, scientists, mathematicians, and, of course, lawyers.
I hope you decide to remain with us as we would all benefit from your presence.
The Impeachment of Judge Porteous
Written by Bob Adelmann
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 08:20
The impeachment of Judge G. Thomas Porteous of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana appeared initially to be an “open and shut” case of bad behavior, with the House of Representatives voting unanimously on four articles of impeachment.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Task Force on Judicial Impeachment, seemed to think so: “Our investigation found that Judge Porteous participated in a pattern of corrupt conduct for years. Litigants have the right to expect a judge hearing their case will be fair and impartial, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Regrettably, no one can have that expectation in Judge Porteous’ courtroom.” Schiff and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) were named lead impeachment managers for the upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate. Goodlatte amplified Schiff’s remarks, saying, “Today’s vote marks only the second time in over 20 years that this has occurred. However, whenever evidence emerges that an individual is abusing his judicial office for his own advantage, the integrity of the entire judicial system becomes compromised.” The Senate is expected to vote on the matter before the end of the year.
Porteous’ difficulties first went public when the Department of Justice in 2007 concluded “that Judge Porteous may have violated federal and state criminal laws, [transgressed] controlling canons of judicial conduct, [and] rules of professional responsibility, and conducted himself in a manner antithetical to the constitutional standard of good behavior required of all federal judges.” But then the DOJ decided not to seek criminal charges in the case and referred it instead to the House of Representatives.
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Article III, Section 1 says, in part, “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior.” Since the founding of the Republic, the House of Representatives has impeached 14 federal judges and the Senate has convicted just six of them. And only 64 times has the House initiated impeachment proceedings against any federal official, including President Bill Clinton in 1998. The House impeached Clinton on two charges, perjury and obstruction of justice, but in 1999 the Senate failed to convict and remove him from office.
The four articles in the Porteous case are:
Article I: engaging in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the trust and confidence placed in him as a Federal judge
Article II: engaging in a longstanding pattern of corrupt conduct that demonstrates his unfitness to serve as a United States District Court Judge
Article III: knowingly and intentionally making false statements, under the penalty of perjury, related to his personal bankruptcy filing and violating a bankruptcy court order
Article IV: knowingly made material false statements about his past to both the United States Senate and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to obtain the office of United States District Court Judge.
All four articles passed the House unanimously.
According to David O. Stewart, author of The Summer of 1787 and Impeached, and defense counsel in the last judicial impeachment trial back in 1989, the Senate isn’t likely to be so clear in rendering its verdict. He wrote in Huffington Post that each of the four articles raises important constitutional questions. He says that the case against Porteous will “turn on the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors,’ a term that was archaic and poorly understood when adopted in 1787.” The Senate has been inconsistent in applying this standard, being opaque about whether a crime had actually been committed or whether the defendant’s conduct was impeachable or not.
Stewart points out that Article I relates to his behavior as a state judge in the 1980s, well before he became a federal judge. Although the judge’s failure to recuse himself in cases where he was “on the take” from the defense attorneys was an “odious practice, it still provides a weak basis for removing him from a federal judgeship. Impeachment applies to abuse of a federal office, not of other offices.”
The second article also addresses the judge’s conduct during his career as a state judge, when a bail bondsman “supposedly provided benefits [to him] in return for judicial favors.” Here is the Senate’s dilemma, according to Stewart: “If the Senate removes Porteous for actions pre-dating his federal appointment, it risks expanding [the definition of] high crimes and misdemeanors … [but] if it does not remove him, Porteous will hold a job he never would have received had [he been truthful during his confirmation hearings].”
The third article relates to Porteous’ filing bankruptcy under a false name. As Stewart points out, “These accusations raise the question of whether a personal misstep warrants removal from office.” As he reminds his readers, “In 1999, the Senate did not remove President Clinton from office even though he gave false testimony under oath about Monica Lewinsky. Perjury about his intimate life was found not worthy of removal.”
Article IV is a “catch-all” article in which the House combined several charges together into one. Stewart said that in “the 1989 case involving Judge Walter L. Nixon, Jr. of Mississippi … we challenged a [similar] catch-all article [successfully].”
In sum, then, in a case that appears on the surface at least to be a “lay-down” to convict Judge Porteous and remove him from office, a closer look reveals a much closer call.
Comments are closed.