|Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana|
October 11, 1994 –December 8, 2010
|Appointed by||Bill Clinton|
|Preceded by||Robert Frederick Collins|
|Succeeded by||Susie Morgan|
Gabriel Thomas Porteous Jr.
December 15, 1946
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Education||Louisiana State University (BA, JD)|
Gabriel Thomas Porteous Jr. (born December 15, 1946)is a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He served for sixteen years before being impeached and removed from office in December 2010.
Porteous was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana State University in 1968 and a Juris Doctor from Louisiana State University Law School in 1971. He was a special counsel to the Office of the State Attorney General, Louisiana from 1971 to 1973. He served as Chief of the Felony Complaint Division in the District Attorney's Office, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, from 1973 to 1975.
He was in private practice in Gretna from 1973 to 1980, and in Metairie from 1980 to 1984. He was a city attorney of Harahan from 1982 to 1984. He was elected as a judge on the 24th Judicial District Court of Louisiana in 1984 and served until 1994.
On August 25, 1994, Porteous was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana vacated by Robert Frederick Collins.He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 7, 1994, and received his commission on October 11, 1994.
Porteous ruled in several landmark cases against the state, including one 2002 case in which he ruled that the state of Louisiana was illegally using federal money to promote religion in its abstinence-only sex education programs.He ordered the state to stop giving money to individuals or organizations that "convey religious messages or otherwise advance religion" with tax dollars. Judge Porteous also said there was ample evidence that many of the groups participating in the Governor's Program on Abstinence were "furthering religious objectives." Those who supported such groups objected to his ruling.
Also in 2002, Porteous overturned a federal ban on rave paraphernalia such as glowsticks, pacifiers, and dust masks, originally banned due to the subculture's ties to recreational drugs such as Ecstasy,after the American Civil Liberties Union successfully claimed the ban to be unconstitutional. He had previously ruled in 1999 against a Louisiana law aimed at banning the second trimester abortion procedure known as intact dilation and extraction.
In 2001, Porteous filed for bankruptcy, III, at the center of a corruption probe. Porteous himself was the subject of investigation by federal investigators.which led to revelations in the press about his private life, specifically the fact that he was alleged to have had close ties with local bail bond magnate Louis Marcotte
In May 2006, Porteous, beset by the recent loss of his home due to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005,and the death of his wife a few months later, and still under investigation by a federal grand jury, was granted temporary medical leave and began a year-long furlough from the federal bench.
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On June 18, 2008, the Judicial Conference of the United States transmitted a certificate to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives expressing the Conference's determination that consideration of impeachment of Porteous might be warranted.The certificate stated that there was substantial evidence that Porteous "repeatedly committed perjury by signing false financial disclosure forms under oath", thus concealing "cash and things of value that he solicited and received from lawyers appearing in litigation before him." In a specific case,
he denied a motion to recuse based on his relationship with lawyers in the case . . . and failed to disclose that the lawyers in question had often provided him with cash. Thereafter, while a bench verdict (that is, a verdict by a judge sitting without a jury) was pending, he solicited and received from the lawyers appearing before him illegal gratuities in the form of cash and other things of value
thus depriving "the public of its right to his honest services".The certificate concluded that this conduct "constituted an abuse of his judicial office" in violation of the Canons of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.
The certificate also stated that there was substantial evidence that Porteous had "repeatedly committed perjury by signing false financial disclosure forms under oath" in connection with his bankruptcy, allowing "him to obtain a discharge of his debts while continuing his lifestyle at the expense of his creditors".Further, he had "made false representations to gain the extension of a bank loan with the intent to defraud the bank".
On September 18, 2008, the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to proceed with an investigation of the bribery and perjury allegations.On October 15, 2008 House Judiciary Chair John Conyers announced that Alan I. Barron had been hired as Special Counsel to lead an inquiry into Porteous' impeachment. Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) were designated as Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, to lead the task force conducting the inquiry. Three months later, the House passed via voice vote a Conyers-sponsored resolution authorizing and directing the Committee on the Judiciary to inquire whether the House should impeach Porteous. The resolution was needed because the previous year's investigation had ended with the previous Congress. In October 2009, Reps. Conyers and Lamar S. Smith introduced a resolution asking to access the judge's tax returns as part of the investigation. The resolution was referred to the Rules Committee and, at the same time, a timeframe was established which called for the investigation to end in November 2009; the Judicial Impeachment Task Force would decide by the end of the year if impeachment would be recommended to the Judiciary Committee. If the recommendation was for impeachment, the Committee would take up the matter in early 2010. The task force scheduled the first hearings on the case for November 17 and 18, with more meetings in December before a final recommendation was made.
On November 13 Porteous sued the task force, claiming that the panel was violating his Fifth Amendment rights by using testimony given under immunity in making the case against him.On January 21, 2010, the panel voted unanimously to recommend four articles of impeachment to the full Judiciary Committee, which, on January 27, voted to send the articles of impeachment to the full House. On March 4, 2010, the full Committee reported H.Res. 1031, a resolution of impeachment of Porteous, to the full House. The full House considered the resolution, which included four articles of impeachment, on March 11, 2010. The subjects of the articles of impeachment, and the corresponding vote of the House of Representatives, appear below:
The same day, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) were appointed as managers to conduct the trial in the Senate.In addition, Schiff and Goodlatte were designated as the lead managers. The articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate, where the proceedings were started on March 17. On that same day, Senators passed two resolutions: one provided for a summons for Porteous to answer the articles against him, and the other provided for a committee to analyze the evidence against him and report their findings to the full Senate. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were designated as Chair and Vice Chair of the committee, respectively. The committee met on April 16; The trial was due to begin in early August, with a vote before the Senate happening in late September, but due to delays, it did not begin until mid-September, with a vote scheduled for December 8, 2010.
On December 7, 2010, the full Senate began hearing the impeachment trial. During the Senate trial for impeachment, Jonathan Turley, acting in Judge Porteous's defense, announced that Judge Porteous had decided to leave the federal bench in 2011 were he not removed from office.
The following day, the Senate voted unanimously to convict Porteous on the first of four impeachment charges, removing him from the bench, before subsequently convicting him on the remaining three articles. In addition, Porteous was forever disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.
On January 13, 2011, the Louisiana Supreme Court officially acknowledged the loss of Porteous's state attorney license.
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A state program to encourage sexual abstinence among adolescents has given money to individuals and groups that promote religion, a practice that violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge decided Thursday. Ruling in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous ordered the Governor's Program on Abstinence to stop giving grants to individuals or groups that use the money to convey religious messages "or otherwise advance religion in any way in the course of any event supported in whole or in part" by the program.
He said there was ample evidence that many of the groups participating in the Governor's Program on Abstinence were "furthering religious objectives
Banning pacifiers and glow sticks in an effort to curb drug use at all-night raves violates free speech and does not further the government's war on drugs, a federal judge has ruled in permanently blocking federal agents from enforcing the ban. [...] The American Civil Liberties Union, though, said the ban was unconstitutional and challenged it in federal court.
U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of New Orleans struck down the dilation and extraction law last March, calling it a "back door effort" to limit a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion. The judge agreed with abortion providers that the '97 law, Act 906, is so vague that it effectively covers any and all abortions.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
Porteous and his wife, Carmella, sought protection from their creditors under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 2001. They filed the case under the names G.T. Ortous and C.A. Ortous with a post office box address in Harvey. Twelve days later, they amended the papers to use their real names. [...] Federal agents initially unearthed Porteous's alleged misconduct during Operation Wrinkled Robe, which largely centered on the influence of a bail bonds company over judges and jailers in Gretna. [...] Porteous returned to the federal bench in June, after spending a year on disability in the wake of losing his house and his wife and enduring the criminal investigation.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 355(b)(1), the Judicial Conference of the United States certifies to the House of Representatives its determination that consideration of impeachment of United States District Judge G. Thomas Porteous (E.D. La.) may be warranted.
The House of Representatives Tuesday authorized its Judiciary Committee to continue its unfinished impeachment investigation of Louisiana federal judge Thomas Porteous. [...] But the committee didn't complete the investigation before the 110th Congress adjourned at the end of 2008 and by rule all impeachment investigations must be authorized by the current Congress.
After the impeachment vote, Schiff and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, were named the lead impeachment managers for the Senate trial, which will decide whether to remove Porteous from the bench.(Archived by WebCite at https://www.webcitation.org/5pE0afpen)
The Senate also voted to bar him from ever holding public office in the future... The vote on the first count was unanimous, 96–0. On subsequent counts, the votes were 69–27, 88–8, and 90–6. Impeachment required a vote of two-thirds of the Senate.
Robert Frederick Collins
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana |