Thomas Porteous

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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. [9] 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." [10] 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." [10] 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. [11]

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." [10] Further, he had "made false representations to gain the extension of a bank loan with the intent to defraud the bank." [11]

Investigation

On September 18, 2008, the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to proceed with an investigation of the bribery and perjury allegations. [12] [13] On October 15, 2008 House Judiciary Chair John Conyers announced that Alan I. Barron had been hired as Special Counsel [14] to lead an inquiry into Porteous's 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. [14] 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. [15] The resolution was needed because the previous year's investigation had ended with the previous Congress. [16] In October 2009, Reps. Conyers and Lamar S. Smith introduced a resolution [17] asking to access the judge's tax returns as part of the investigation. [18] The resolution was referred to the Rules Committee [17] [18] 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. [18] 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. [19]

Impeachment

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. [20] On January 21, 2010, the panel voted unanimously to recommend four articles of impeachment to the full Judiciary Committee, [21] which, on January 27, voted to send the articles of impeachment to the full House. [22] 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 impeachment resolution on March 11, 2010 and voted to adopt all four articles, all of which passed unanimously. The subjects of the articles of impeachment, and the corresponding vote of the House of Representatives, appear below:

Article I – engaging in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the trust and confidence placed in him as a Federal judge – Passed the House by a vote of 412–0. [23]
Article II – engaged in a longstanding pattern of corrupt conduct that demonstrates his unfitness to serve as a United States District Court Judge – Passed the House by a vote of 410–0. [24]
Article III – knowingly and intentionally making false statements, under penalty of perjury, related to his personal bankruptcy filing and violating a bankruptcy court order – Passed the House by a vote of 416–0. [25]
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 – Passed the House by a vote of 423–0. [26]

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 managers to conduct the trial in the Senate. [27] In addition, Schiff and Goodlatte were designated as the lead managers. [28] The articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate, where the proceedings were started on March 17. [29] On that same day, Senators passed two resolutions: one provided for a summons for Porteous to answer the articles against him, [30] and the other provided for a committee to analyze the evidence against him and report their findings to the full Senate. [31] Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were designated as Chair and Vice Chair of the committee, respectively. [32] 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. [33]

Trial

On December 7, 2010, the full Senate began hearing the impeachment trial. Senate President pro tempore Daniel Inouye presided over the trial. 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 a separate vote, per a motion by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate disqualified Porteous from ever holding "any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States" again. He is one of only three former federal officers to be permanently banned from holding federal office after being impeached and removed.

Article I – engaging in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the trust and confidence placed in him as a Federal judge – Convicted in the Senate by a vote of 96–0. [34]
Article II – engaged in a longstanding pattern of corrupt conduct that demonstrates his unfitness to serve as a United States District Court Judge – Convicted in the Senate by a vote of 69–27. [35]
Article III – knowingly and intentionally making false statements, under penalty of perjury, related to his personal bankruptcy filing and violating a bankruptcy court order – Convicted in the Senate by a vote of 88–8. [36]
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 – Convicted in the Senate by a vote of 90–6. [37]
Disqualification – Forever disqualified to hold any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States – Disqualified by the Senate by a vote of 94–2. [38] [39]

On January 15, 2011, Porteous gave up his law license in lieu of facing discipline, and agreed to never practice law in Louisiana again. According to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, Porteous's conviction by the Senate effectively ended his legal career. [40] [41]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Porteous, G. Thomas, Jr. – Federal Judicial Center".
  2. Simerman, John (November 15, 2021). "Ex-Louisiana judge G. Thomas Porteous, last to be impeached by U.S. Senate, dies at 74". NOLA.com. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  3. 1 2 Finch, Susan; Ritea, Steve (July 26, 2002). "Judge says religious groups got state abstinence grants – Program ordered to keep closer watch". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. p. B6. 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.
  4. Connolly, Ceci (July 26, 2002). "Judge Orders Changes In Abstinence Program". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 10, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2010. He said there was ample evidence that many of the groups participating in the Governor's Program on Abstinence were "furthering religious objectives
  5. 1 2 Finch, Susan (February 5, 2002). "Judge throws out ban on rave gear – Pacifiers, glow sticks are legal". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. Archived from the original on June 12, 2002. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 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.
  6. Gyan, Joe, Jr (September 15, 1999). "State claims abortion restriction attempt to bar infanticide". The Advocate. Baton Rouge. p. B6. 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.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Broach, Drew; Rainey, Richard (December 20, 2007). "Court refers Porteous for impeachment". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 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.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Gordon, Meghan (June 1, 2007). "Federal judge returning to bench". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  9. Duff, James C. (June 18, 2008). "Judicial Conference of the United States Determination" (PDF). Judicial Conference of the United States. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 22, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 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.
  10. 1 2 3 Duff, James C. (June 18, 2008). "Judicial Conference of the United States Determination" (PDF). Judicial Conference of the United States. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 22, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  11. 1 2 Duff, James C. (June 18, 2008). "Judicial Conference of the United States Determination" (PDF). Judicial Conference of the United States. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 22, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  12. Kellman, Laurie (September 17, 2008). "House panel moves toward impeaching a judge". USA Today. Associated Press. Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  13. Conyers, John, Jr. (September 17, 2008). "H. Res. 1448: Authorizing and directing the Committee on the Judiciary to inquire whether the House should impeach G. Thomas Porteous, a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana". United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  14. 1 2 "House Judiciary Committee Announces Retention of Alan Baron to Lead Inquiry into Possible Impeachment of Judge Porteous" (Press release). U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. October 2, 2008. Archived from the original on June 25, 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  15. Conyers, John, Jr. (January 6, 2009). "H. Res. 15: Authorizing and directing the Committee on the Judiciary to inquire whether the House should impeach G. Thomas Porteous, a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  16. Alpert, Bruce (January 13, 2009). "House votes to renew impeachment probe of Judge Porteous". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 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.
  17. 1 2 Conyers, John, Jr.; Smith, Lamar (September 30, 2009). "H. Res. 785: Authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to inspect and receive certain tax returns and tax return information for the purposes of its investigation into whether United States District Judge G. Thomas Porteous should be impeached, and for other purposes". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  18. 1 2 3 Alpert, Bruce (October 1, 2009). "Federal judge's tax returns sought in probe". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  19. Alpert, Bruce (November 12, 2009). "Porteous impeachment request to be subject of hearings". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  20. Staff reporter (November 13, 2009). "Federal judge sues impeachment panel". AP. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  21. Alpert, Bruce (January 21, 2010). "Judge Thomas Porteous should be impeached, task force votes". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  22. Alpert, Bruce (January 27, 2010). "All four articles of impeachment approved against Judge Porteous". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  23. Miller, Lorraine C. (March 11, 2010). "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 102". Office of the Clerk. Retrieved April 24, 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  24. Miller, Lorraine C. (March 11, 2010). "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 103". Office of the Clerk. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  25. Miller, Lorraine C. (March 11, 2010). "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 104". Office of the Clerk. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  26. Miller, Lorraine C. (March 11, 2010). "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 105". Office of the Clerk. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  27. Schiff, Adam B. (June 19, 2009). "H. Res. 1165: Appointing and authorizing managers for the impeachment of G. Thomas Porteous, Jr., a Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved June 25, 2009.[ permanent dead link ]
  28. Staff reporter (March 11, 2010). "House votes to impeach federal judge from Louisiana". CNN. Retrieved April 24, 2010. 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)
  29. Alpert, Bruce (March 17, 2010). "Judge Thomas Porteous impeachment proceedings begin in Senate". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  30. Reid, Harry (March 17, 2009). "S. Res. 457: A resolution to provide for issuance of a summons and for related procedures concerning the articles of impeachment against G. Thomas Porteous, Jr". United States Senate. Retrieved April 24, 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  31. Reid, Harry (March 17, 2009). "S. Res. 458: A resolution to provide for the appointment of a committee to receive and to report evidence with respect to articles of impeachment against Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr". United States Senate. Retrieved April 24, 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  32. "Senate Leaders Announce Bipartisan Committee To Investigate Judge G. Thomas Porteous" (Press release). Senate Democratic Caucus. March 17, 2010. Archived from the original on May 5, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  33. Alpert, Bruce (April 13, 2010). "Judge Thomas Porteous will get 'expeditious but fair trial' in Senate". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  34. "Roll Call Vote 111th Congress - 2nd Session". senate.gov. United States Senate. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
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  39. Memoli, Michael A. (December 9, 2010). "Senate convicts Louisiana federal judge in impeachment trial". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 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.
  40. Rainey, Richard (January 15, 2011). "Thomas Porteous, impeached federal judge, has lost his law license". The Times-Picayune.
  41. "Impeached Federal Judge Has Law License Revoked". Courthouse News Service. January 17, 2011.
Thomas Porteous
PorteousThomasG.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
In office
October 11, 1994 December 8, 2010
Legal offices
Preceded byJudge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
1994–2010
Succeeded by