Legal Ethics

Federal Judge Impeached by House in Unanimous Vote

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The House of Representatives voted 412-0 today to approve the first of four articles of impeachment against New Orleans District Judge Thomas Porteous.

The article found the judge was engaging in misconduct by not disclosing his relationship with a lawyer before him in a hospital case, the Times-Picayune reported. House votes on the other three articles are pending.

“Litigants have the right to expect a judge hearing their case will be fair and impartial, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “Regrettably, no one can have that expectation in Judge Porteous’ courtroom. We hope the Senate will schedule the trial expeditiously, so that we may prove our case and remove him from office.”

The Senate will now likely appoint a committee to conduct a trial, the Times-Picayune reported. After such a trial, the Senate would be able to remove Porteous with a two-thirds vote.

Porteous is the 15th judge to ever be impeached by the House. The most recent impeachment was of Samuel Kent of the Southern District of Texas in June. Kent—who was drawing his salary while serving a 33-month sentence for lying to investigators about his nonconsensual sexual contact with two employees—resigned from office before the Senate could mount a trial.

Porteous has been suspended from hearing cases but is still drawing his $174,000 salary, the Times-Picayune reports. But if the Senate does not remove Porteous from office or he does not resign, he will resume hearing cases in September.

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