Impeachment Hearings Against Judge Come to an End

Posted September 21, 2010 at 8:05pm

The Senate is poised to consider whether to impeach U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. during the lame-duck session, now that an appointed impeachment panel has completed nearly two weeks of proceedings.

The 12-member panel, which is led by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), spent the previous week and a half listening to testimony concerning corruption charges against the New Orleans-based judge. With those proceedings now finished, the panel will present its evidence to the full Senate for consideration, most likely in mid-November.

McCaskill’s panel is required to create a report of “neutral summary of the evidence” for Senators to review. The Senate will vote to either convict or acquit Porteous; a vote of impeachment requires a two-thirds vote.

The House adopted four articles of impeachment against Porteous in March. He has been suspended from the bench during his impeachment hearings, which are the Senate’s first since 1999, when Members considered whether to impeach President Bill Clinton.

House prosecutors alleged that Porteous accepted cash and other perks when he was a state judge in the 1980s and that the behavior continued into his federal judgeship, which began in 1994. They also said he fraudulently filed for bankruptcy and lied to Congress when he was going through his judicial confirmation nearly 16 years ago.

Senate jurors have expressed skepticism at the House testimony, however. The Senate has convicted only seven judges in its history.