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Legal Ethics

As House Panel Says ‘Impeach,’ Lawyer for Fed’l Judge Minimizes Corruption Claims

Posted Jan 22, 2010 5:49 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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After a recommendation yesterday by a task force of the U.S. House of Representatives that a federal judge be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors," his lawyer is outlining a defense, reports the Blog of Legal Times.

Its post provides a link to the four recommended articles of impeachment (PDF) against G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana. They include allegations of a "corrupt financial relationship" with a law firm, a "corrupt scheme" involving two of the firm's attorneys that began in the 1980s when Porteous was still on the state-court bench and "intentionally misleading statements" by Porteous at a recusal hearing concerning his personal relationship with the two attorneys.

“His long-standing pattern of corrupt conduct, so utterly lacking in honesty and integrity, demonstrates his unfitness to serve as a United States district court judge,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who was in charge of the task force, reports the Associated Press.

Attorney Richard Westling of Ober Kaler Grimes & Shriver is representing Porteous and has suggested two potential defenses if the recommended impeachment is approved by the House Judiciary Committee and the full House and proceeds to trial in the Senate, the BLT reports. First, much of the claimed wrongdoing by the judge occurred before he was on the federal bench. Second, the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Testimony: Fed’l Judge Owed $150K on Credit Cards, Got $20K from 2 Lawyers"

ABAJournal.com: "Number of Ethics Probes of Federal Judges Appears Unprecedented"

ABAJournal.com: "Unethical US Judges Often Get Away With Misconduct, Newspaper Finds"

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