Judge G Thomas Porteous Is Last Judge to Be Impeached
Thomas Porteous, Jr., a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, was the last federal judge to be impeached. He was convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office on December 8, 2010, on charges of accepting bribes and making false statements under penalty of perjury.
Legal Career of Thomas Porteous
Thomas Porteous, Jr., was born on December 14, 1946, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Louisiana State University.
From 1971 to 1973, Porteous served as Special Counsel to the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General. He then served as an Assistant District Attorney for eleven years.
Because district attorneys were also allowed to engage in private practice at that time, Judge Porteous also worked as an attorney at the law firm Edwards, Porteous & Amato.
Judge Porteous was elected judge of the 24th Judicial District Court in the State of Louisiana in 1984, an office he held until October 1994. In August 1994, Judge Porteous was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. His confirmation hearing was held on October 6, 1994. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 7, 1994, received his commission on October 11, 1994, and was sworn in on October 28, 1994.
In 1999, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a criminal investigation of Judge Porteous. After a lengthy investigation, they failed to bring charges. The DOJ did, however, submitted a formal complaint of judicial misconduct to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Impeachment Proceedings for Thomas Porteous
On June 18, 2008, the Judicial Conference of the United States recommended that Congress consider initiating impeachment proceedings against Judge Porteous. It stated that there was substantial evidence that Porteous “repeatedly committed perjury by signing false financial disclosure forms under oath”, thus concealing “cash and things of value that he solicited and received from lawyers appearing in litigation before him.”
Judge Porteous was unanimously impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 11, 2010, on charges of accepting bribes and making false statements under penalty of perjury. The Articles of Impeachment alleged that Judge Porteous, while presiding as a United States district judge, failed to recuse himself from a case, despite the fact that he had a corrupt financial relationship one of the law firms involved in the case. As detailed in the Articles of Impeachment:
In denying the motion to recuse, Judge Porteous failed to disclose that beginning in or about the late 1980’s while he was a State court judge in the 24th Judicial District Court in the State of Louisiana, he engaged in a corrupt scheme with attorneys, Jacob Amato, Jr., and Robert Creely, whereby Judge Porteous appointed Amato’s law partner as a `curator’ in hundreds of cases and thereafter requested and accepted from Amato & Creely a portion of the curatorship fees which had been paid to the firm. During the period of this scheme, the fees received by Amato & Creely amounted to approximately $40,000, and the amounts paid by Amato & Creely to Judge Porteous amounted to approximately $20,000.
After accepting additional cash payments and other items of value while the case was pending, Judge Porteous ruled in favor of the law firm’s client.
The Articles of Impeachment also maintained that Judge Porteous engaged in a corrupt relationship with bail bondsman Louis M. Marcotte, III, and his sister Lori Marcotte. “As part of this corrupt relationship, Judge Porteous solicited and accepted numerous things of value, including meals, trips, home repairs, and car repairs, for his personal use and benefit, while at the same time taking official actions that benefitted the Marcottes,” the articles alleged.
Another article alleged that Judge Porteous “engaged in a pattern of conduct inconsistent with the trust and confidence placed in him as a Federal judge” by knowingly and intentionally making material false statements and representations in connection with his own personal bankruptcy case. Among other charges, he reportedly attempted to disguise his identity, hide gambling losses, and conceal assets.
In light of the above corruption, the Articles of Impeachment further alleged that Judge Porteous “knowingly made materially false statements about his past to both the United States Senate and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to obtain the office of United States District Court Judge.” Judge Porteous was convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office on December 8, 2010.
For a full list of all Federal Judges that have been impeached please visit our Impeachment of Federal Judges page.
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