The Times-Picayune is reporting that the historic impeachment trial of Federal Judge Thomas Porteous is underway in the U.S. Senate. This is from the report:
"Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., gaveled the start this morning of a trial that could lead to the ouster of New Orleans Judge Thomas Porteous. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who heads the five-member House team serving as prosecutors for the trial, said in his opening statement that Porteous, 63, must be removed from the bench to ensure confidence in the legal process.
'It is the unanimous view of he House of Representative that his conduct is not only wrong but so violative of the public trust that he cannot be allowed to remain on the bench without making a mockery of the court system.' Schiff told the Senate Impeachment Trial Committee.
McCaskil, the committee's chair, said the trial will continue through Thursday with another and final session on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
Schiff said that the Porteous defense will argue that his behavior is just the way things are done in the New Orleans area judicial system. 'After all, senators,' said Schiff, assuming the tack that he predicted Porteous' counsel would take, 'we're talking about New Orleans, it's New Orleans, they all do it, and if you're going to impeach judges in New Orleans for this sort of stuff, then you'll have to impeach all of them.'
But Jonathan Turley, Porteous' chief counsel, said that the House is attempting to remove the judge for conduct that is common in small-town courthouses, like the Gretna courthouse where Porteous served as judge before his federal appointment, that and many of the allegations are false.
'House members may be surprised to learn the articles were based on alleged acts that we now know could not have occurred,' Turley said. As an example, Turley cited a House allegation that Porteous waited until after he was confirmed to his federal judgeship by the Senate to expunge a burglary conviction for an employee at a bail-bond firm that was providing him with meals and home repairs. The House managers said he waited because he didn't want to jeopardize his confirmation. But Turley said the expungement occurred before the Senate confirmation vote. The House, he said, 'had the facts wrong.'
Porteous sat at the defense table next to Turley (pic, above).
The proceedings are historic. Only 14 federal judges have ever been impeached by the House of Representatives. Seven of the 14 were found guilty, and removed from office, while four were acquitted. Three judges resigned before the Senate could make a determination."
We've covered this story almost from the outset of the Bad Lawyer blawg. Judge Porteous' fall is directly related to alcoholism and gambling addictions--a genuine tragedy for someone who was highly-regarded by local New Orleans attorneys.