United States House Judiciary Task Force on Judicial Impeachment
On June 19, 2008, the Judicial Conference of the United States delivered to the House of Representatives notification certifying "its determination that consideration of impeachment of United States District Judge Thomas Porteous (E.D. La.) may be warranted." After a number of months considering the matter, the House passed Resolution 1448, which authorized the House Judiciary committee to create a task force to investigate the matter. The task force's authority lapsed with the change of Congress, and on January 13, 2009, the House Passed Resolution 13, which renewed it. In May of that year, the Task Force's authority was expanded to include the Case of Samuel Kent, a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives on June 19, 2009.
Judge Thomas Porteous
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On June 18, 2008 the Judicial Conference of the United States transmitted a certificate to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing the Conference's determination that consideration of impeachment of Judge Porteous might be warranted. The certificate stated that there was substantial evidence that Judge 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." In a specific case, "he denied a motion to recuse based on his relationship with lawyers in the case . . . and failed to disclose that the lawyers in question had often provided him with cash. Thereafter, while a bench verdict (that is, a verdict by a judge sitting without a jury) was pending, he solicited and received from the lawyers appearing before him illegal gratuities in the form of cash and other things of value"" thus depriving "the public of its right to his honest services". The certificate concluded that this conduct "constituted an abuse of his judicial office" in violation of the Canons of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges".
The certificate also stated that there was substantial evidence that Porteous had "repeatedly committed perjury by signing false financial disclosure forms under oath" in connection with his bankruptcy, allowing "him to obtain a discharge of his debts while continuing his lifestyle at the expense of his creditors", and that he had "made false representations to gain the extension of a bank loan with the intent to defraud the bank".
On September 18, 2008, the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to proceed with an investigation of the bribery and perjury allegations. On October 15, 2008 House Judiciary Chair John Conyers announced that Alan I. Barron had been hired as Special Counsel to lead an inquiry into Judge Porteous' impeachment. Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) were designated as Chair and Ranking Member, respectively to lead the task force conducting the inquiry.
On January 13, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 15 by voice vote, authorizing and directing the Committee on the Judiciary to inquire whether the House should impeach Judge Porteous. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and was proposed because the investigation ended with the previous Congress and a renewal was needed. In October 2009, Reps. Conyers and Lamar Smith introduced a resolution asking to access the judge's tax returns as part of the investigation. The resolution was referred to the Rules Committee and, at the same time, a timeframe was established which called for the investigation to end in November 2009; the Judicial Impeachment Task Force would decide by the end of the year if impeachment would be recommended to the Judiciary Committee. If the recommendation was for impeachment, the Committee would take up the matter in early 2010. The task force scheduled the first hearings on the case for November 17 and 18, with more meetings in December before a final recommendation was made.
On November 13 Porteous sued the task force, claiming that the panel was violating his Fifth Amendment rights by using testimony given under immunity in making the case against him. On January 21, 2010, the panel voted unanimously to recommend four articles of impeachment to the full Judiciary Committee, which, on January 27, voted to send the articles of impeachment to the full House.
Judge Samuel Kent
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On May 14, 2009, Judge Kent refused to resign after he was sentenced to prison. The House Judiciary Committee then voted to begin an impeachment investigation. Proceedings continued after the judge resigned in June 2009 but set an effective date for his resignation in 2010. Hearings were held on June 2.
Chaired by Rep Adam Schiff, it featured the powerful testimony by the emotional and sometimes halting testimony of Cathy McBroom and Donna Wilkerson. The two Texas women sat side by side at the witness table, never smiling, and recounted the horrible events that Kent's guilty plea acknowledged had occurred. Both women quoted Kent as frequently saying: "I am the government." In an emotional moment, Wilkerson described trying to tell her teenage daughter to never endure any sexual misconduct, even if it meant harsh consequences such as losing her job.
Kent and his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, refused to attend, calling it a "circus."
On June 9, the Task Force reported four articles to the full House Judiciary Committee, which sent them to the full House the next day, After his formal impeachment June 19, Kent resigned for real as the Senate trial was being organized.
Members of the Task Force, 111th Congress
- Duff, James C. (2008-06-18). "Judicial Conference of the United States Determination" (PDF). Judicial Conference of the United States. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 355(b)(1), the Judicial Conference of the United States certifies to the House of Representatives its determination that consideration of impeachment of United States District Judge G. Thomas Porteous (E.D. La.) may be warranted.
- Duff, James C. (2008-06-18). "Judicial Conference of the United States Determination" (PDF). Judicial Conference of the United States. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
- Duff, James C. (2008-06-18). "Judicial Conference of the United States Determination" (PDF). Judicial Conference of the United States. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
- Kellman, Laurie (2008-09-17). "House panel moves toward impeaching a judge". AP. Retrieved 2009-10-07. (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/5kLH3f4EJ)
- Conyers, John, Jr. (2008-09-17). "H. Res. 1448: Authorizing and directing the Committee on the Judiciary to inquire whether the House should impeach G. Thomas Porteous, a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- "House Judiciary Committee Announces Retention of Alan Baron to Lead Inquiry into Possible Impeachment of Judge Porteous" (Press release). U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
- Conyers, John, Jr. (2009-01-06). "H. Res. 15: Authorizing and directing the Committee on the Judiciary to inquire whether the House should impeach G. Thomas Porteous, a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
- Alpert, Bruce (2009-01-13). "House votes to renew impeachment probe of Judge Porteous". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
The House of Representatives Tuesday authorized its Judiciary Committee to continue its unfinished impeachment investigation of Louisiana federal judge Thomas Porteous. [...] But the committee didn't complete the investigation before the 110th Congress adjourned at the end of 2008 and by rule all impeachment investigations must be authorized by the current Congress.
- Conyers, John, Jr.; Lamar Smith (2009-09-30). "H. Res. 785: Authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to inspect and receive certain tax returns and tax return information for the purposes of its investigation into whether United States District Judge G. Thomas Porteous should be impeached, and for other purposes.". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- Alpert, Bruce (2009-10-01). "Federal judge's tax returns sought in probe". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- Alpert, Bruce (2009-11-12). "Porteous impeachment request to be subject of hearings". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2009-11-14.
- Staff reporter (2009-11-13). "Federal judge sues impeachment panel". AP. Retrieved 2009-11-14. (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/5lGuibt3o)
- Alpert, Bruce (2010-01-21). "Judge Thomas Porteous should be impeached, task force votes". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
- Alpert, Bruce (2010-01-27). "All four articles of impeachment approved against Judge Porteous". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
- "Victims allege years of sexual misconduct by federal judge - CNN.com". CNN. 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2010-05-26.