Federal Judges, G. Thomas Porteous, Judge of the Day, Legal Ethics

Impeachment Looms for Judge Thomas Porteous

Thomas Porteous Judge G Thomas Porteous Jr Eastern District Louisiana.jpgJudge G. Thomas Porteous (E.D. La.), the only Judge of the Day Hall of Fame honoree who is still actually a judge, may soon join Edward Nottingham, Samuel Kent and Elizabeth Halverson as a former judge.
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

The House Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved four articles of impeachment against U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous. The panel, consisting of 23 Democrats and 16 Republicans, sent the articles to the full House of Representatives.
A vote by a majority of the 435-member House to impeach Porteous, 63, would result in a Senate trial on whether to remove the New Orleans judge, a 1994 appointee of President Bill Clinton, from office. It takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove a judge from what otherwise is a lifetime appointment.

So what were the impeachment articles based on?

The articles accuse Porteous of seeking and taking kickbacks and other gifts, including money, trips and free meals at expensive restaurants from lawyers and a bail bond company with business before him. The task force also drew up articles that accuse Porteous of not disclosing improper conduct as a state judge to the Senate or the FBI during his 1994 appointment and confirmation process and making false statements in a personal bankruptcy filing.

Judges declaring bankruptcy and accepting free meals — from bail bondsmen? Sounds like an argument for that judicial pay raise.
Here’s some historical context, from the National Law Journal:

Porteous, who has refused to resign, would be the eighth federal judge ever removed from the bench if the full House of Representatives impeaches him and the Senate convicts him. He has been a judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana since 1994 but is not currently hearing cases because of the ethics questions surrounding him.

This is the second time in as many years that the House has taken action against a federal judge. In June, the House impeached U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of the Southern District of Texas, who had pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. It was the first impeachment of a federal judge since 1989. Kent resigned before the Senate began his trial.

So why doesn’t Judge Porteous step down? Probably for the same reason that Judge Kent took his sweet time in resigning. Right now he’s on a taxpayer-funded vacation: he’s collecting his federal judicial salary, while not having to hear any cases. What’s not to like?
All four articles of impeachment approved against Judge Porteous [New Orleans Times-Picayune via Business Insider]
House Committee Adopts Articles of Impeachment Against La. Federal Judge [National Law Journal]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge G. Thomas Porteous

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