The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously today to adopt four articles of impeachment against U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr., accusing the judge of misconduct over three decades.
Porteous, who has refused to resign, would be the eighth federal judge ever removed from the bench if the full House of Representatives impeaches him and the Senate convicts him. He has been a judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana since 1994 but is not currently hearing cases because of the ethics questions surrounding him.
This is the second time in as many years that the House has taken action against a federal judge. In June, the House impeached U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of the Southern District of Texas, who had pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. It was the first impeachment of a federal judge since 1989. Kent resigned before the Senate began his trial.
The four articles of impeachment cover a wide variety of allegations against Porteous: First, that he should have recused from a 1997 case because he had, while a state judge, accepted cash from a law firm involved in the case; Second, that he corruptly accepted meals, trips and other gifts from a bailbondsman while Porteous was a state judge; Third, that he lied during his personal bankruptcy case from 2001 to 2004 by, among other things, concealing assets; and Fourth, that he misled the Senate by not revealing his allegedly corrupt activity during the 1994 confirmation process.
“Judge Porteous demonstrates a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the trust and confidence placed in him as a federal judge,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who chaired the House task force that investigated Porteous.
Porteous’ lawyer, Richard Westling of the Washington office of Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver, has said that the House should not consider Porteous’ conduct as a state judge. And, Westling has said, the U.S. Department of Justice declined to bring a case against Porteous, citing multiple complications with a potential trial.
Updated at 12:39 p.m.