Mar 11, 2010 1:09 PM by Letitia Walker
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House voted unanimously Thursday to
impeach a U.S. district judge from Louisiana, who lawmakers said
avoided likely criminal charges related to payoffs charges in part
because the statute of limitations expired.
The House approved four impeachment articles charging him with
taking payoffs and lying under oath. The unanimous vote reflected
the bipartisan anger of the House over the judge's avoidance of
those likely criminal charges.
The case goes to trial in the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is
needed to convict U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of the
"high crimes and misdemeanors" standard set out in the
Porteous was accused of taking cash from lawyers and gifts from
a bail bondsman; lying to the Senate and the FBI to win
confirmation; and making false statements in his personal
bankruptcy proceedings to hide financial problems and gambling
If convicted in the Senate, Porteous would become the eighth
federal judge in U.S. history to be impeached and convicted.
Porteous was nominated by President Bill Clinton.
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said Porteous' misconduct
was so serious that he's "one of a kind and it's time for him to
receive his comeuppance."
The head of the House Judiciary Committee task force that held
hearings on Porteous' conduct, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the
Justice Department found the judge may have violated criminal laws
but time ran out to file charges.
However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suspended
Porteous for two years, a punishment that ends in September. The
expiration establishes an informal deadline for the Senate to
finish a trial.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, called Porteous a "threat to the
integrity of the federal bench" and added, "We will not let a few
bad actors mar the reputation of others on the federal bench."
The impeachment articles state:
-As a federal judge Porteous refused to remove himself from a
case, even though as a state judge, he had taken money from the law
firm that represented the defendant.
-As a state and federal judge, Porteous accepted meals, trips,
home repairs and car repairs from a bail bondsman and his sister.
In return, while on the state bench, Porteous set and reduced bonds
as requested by the couple, and improperly set aside or expunged
felony convictions for two of the bondsman's employees.
-The judge lied in his personal bankruptcy case by using a false
name to conceal his identity as a debtor, his assets, his gambling
losses, preferential payments to some creditors and new debts while
the case was pending.
-Making false statements about his past to both the Senate and
to the FBI in order to win confirmation as a federal judge. He
falsely responded on a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire
that he did not know of any unfavorable information that would
affect his nomination.