DECEMBER 08, 2010
A Clinton-appointed federal judge who took bribes from lawyers to pay off gambling debts has become the first in more than two decades to be removed by Congress.
That makes the corrupt former judge, Thomas Porteous, only the eighth in history to be stripped of his lifetime federal job. Earlier this year the House of Representatives unanimously impeached the Louisiana jurist for “high crimes and misdemeanors” after determining that he took money and valuable gifts from attorneys with cases before him, hid assets, filed for bankruptcy under a bogus name and defied a bankruptcy court’s order relating to credit.
It marked only the 15th time in history that the House voted to impeach a federal judge. To permanently remove a federal judge from his or her lifetime position requires a two-thirds Senate vote and, until this week, that had not occurred in 21 years. Walter Nixon of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals got the boot in 1989 for committing perjury in grand jury testimony to conceal his intervention in a drug case involving his business partner’s son.
In convicting Porteous on corruption and perjury charges this week, the Senate voted unanimously on one of the four articles of impeachment. The panel also voted to ban him from ever holding public office. It marked the first Senate impeachment trial since Bill Clinton was acquitted for obstructing justice to hide his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Porteous’s many transgressions were discovered during an FBI investigation of state judges in
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