This morning the United States Senate voted to convict Judge G. Thomas Porteous of Louisiana on all four articles of impeachment he faced. These convictions will remove him from his lifetime seat on the federal bench, making him only the eighth federal judge in U.S. history to suffer this fate, and strip him of the $174,000 pension he would have otherwise enjoyed.
Article I accused Judge Porteous, 63, of bringing the federal judiciary “into scandal and disrepute,” as a result of his “corrupt financial relationship” with attorneys appearing before him (who gave him “gifts”). The vote was unanimous: 96-0. Ouch.
Apparently the senators were not persuaded by Professor Jonathan Turley’s argument that Judge Porteous (E.D. La.) wasn’t guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, but simply “something of a moocher.” Think Kato Kaelin, but in a black robe.
Judge Porteous fared a bit better on the other three articles of impeachment….
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.
After a year away from the bench, U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous Jr. will regain both his criminal and civil dockets next month, signaling an end to the long criminal investigation into his personal bankruptcy and possible misdeeds while a federal and Jefferson Parish jurist.
Chief Judge Ginger Berrigan said Thursday that Porteous will return to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District [of Louisiana], in mid-June after spending the past year secluded from friends and under the weight of grand jury hearings into his actions….
Porteous’ attorney, Kyle Schonekas, said federal prosecutors told him a few weeks ago that they didn’t intend to indict Porteous. He said the court then asked Porteous to resume duties at the court.
You may recall Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr. (E.D. La.), recently named an ATL Judge of the Day. He’s currently the subject of a federal criminal investigation, and he’s on an extended leave from the bench (to focus on the investigation and to mourn his recently deceased wife).
Judge Porteous has now applied to extend his leave for six more months. From the Times-Picayune:
When Porteous left six months ago, [Chief Judge Ginger] Berrigan divided his docket of 248 cases among the other federal district judges in New Orleans. A deputy court clerk said at the time that those cases could be returned to Porteous once the leave expired, but many of them could be settled by the time he returns next year.
Porteous was hearing only civil cases at the time he left, having recused himself from presiding over criminal matters after The Times-Picayune reported allegations that the judge had accepted fence repairs and other gifts from Bail Bonds Unlimited, the corrupt bail bonds company that was brought down in the federal Wrinkled Robe investigation.
In 2003, a seaman named Robert Hanna sued his employer, an offshore drilling company, after stairs on one of its ships collapsed beneath him and dropped him several feet to the floor.
His case against the Rowan Companies went to trial in U.S. District Court in New Orleans in August 2005. Within two days, attorneys announced they had agreed to a settlement, the judge dismissed the jury and everyone appeared to walk away satisfied.
What Hanna might not have known, however, is that while his personal injury suit was pending, well before trial began, Rowan treated the presiding judge, Thomas Porteous Jr., to a $1,000 hunting trip.
This calls to mind Justice Antonin Scalia’s controversial duck-hunting trip with Vice-President Dick Cheney. What is up with all these federal judges going hunting with litigants?
Now, let’s not overreact. The Times-Picayune puts the latest allegations in context:
There is no evidence that Porteous showed Rowan favorable treatment in court. Nor is the trip known to be a subject of the lengthy criminal investigation into the judge’s conduct, including a personal bankruptcy case he and his wife filed in 2001, under false names; his handling of a hospital suit involving several of his friends; and his relationship with former bail bonds magnate Louis Marcotte III, who pleaded guilty to corrupting two state judges at the Gretna court, where Porteous was a jurist until 1994.
In other words: “Sure, this looks bad. But hey, the judge has done worse stuff before!”
The article then quotes a bunch of legal ethics experts who opine that it probably wasn’t a great idea for Judge Porteous to accept a free hunting trip from a litigant appearing before him. We won’t bother excerpting them here — anyone who’s passed the MPRE could tell you that. Company Facing Suit Took Judge Hunting [New Orleans Times Picayune] UTR News and Views: August 23, 2004 [Underneath Their Robes] G. Thomas Porteous Jr. [FJC]
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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