Senate Convicts 'Moocher' La. Judge, Removes from Federal Bench

By Jason Beahm on December 08, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Even judges aren't above the law. At least not when they push it to the extreme.

So learned U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous who was convicted by the U.S. Senate on four articles of impeachment. It was the first impeachment trial since the 1999 trial of President Clinton. G. Thomas Porteous joins a dubious list of judges as only the eighth removed though the impeachment process. Porteous was the first judge removed in over 20 years. Among other things, that means no more cushy $174,000 a year pension for the disgraced former Louisiana federal judge, The Times-Picayune reports.

Impeachment is a fundamental constitutional power belonging to Congress, used to charge, try, and remove public officials for misconduct while in office.

So just what does a sitting judge have to do in order to get impeached? Well, apparently Porteous was accepting gifts from attorneys trying cases before him. And by gifts, that sometimes meant straight up cash. Which is a lot more like a bribe then a gift, but whatever. Porteous then ruled in favor of the attorneys who gave him the gifts. He also lied during his person bankruptcy.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, Porteous' lawyer, unsuccessfully argued that Porteous didn't break the law. Instead, Turley contended that his client was merely "something of a moocher," a man who certainly made some mistakes, but was not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Not so fast, said the Senate. They overwhelmingly convicted Porteous, despite only needing a two-thirds vote to convict:

96-0 on Article 1, charges of having a corrupt financial relationship with lawyers.

69-27 on Article 2 charges of accepting meals, trips and gifts from a bail bondsman.

88-8 on Article 3 charges of lying in the course of his personal bankruptcy case.

90 to 6 on Article 4 charges of misleading the Senate by failing to disclose corruption during his confirmation.

When the House impeached Porteous, they argued that he "demonstrates a level of moral depravity and bad judgment, such that it is completely incompatible with the responsibilities of a judge," The Los Angeles Times reports.

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