Walter Nixon

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Walter Nixon

Walter Louis Nixon, Jr. (born 1928) is a former United States federal judge who was impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate.[1]

Nixon was born in Biloxi, Mississippi.[1] He attended Tulane University Law School, graduating in 1951 and went into private practice in his hometown of Biloxi. He also served in the United States Air Force from 1953 and 1955.[1]

On May 29, 1968, Nixon was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to a new seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, created by 80 Stat. 75.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 6, 1968, and received his commission on June 7, 1968.[1] In 1982, due to his length of tenure, he became Chief Judge of the same District Court.[1]

In 1989, Nixon (no relation to former U.S. President Richard Nixon) was impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate, for committing perjury before a grand jury. The offense stemmed from his grand jury testimony and statements to federal officers concerning his intervention in the state drug prosecution of Drew Fairchild, the son of Wiley Fairchild, a business partner of Nixon. Although the case was assigned to a state court, Wiley Fairchild had asked Nixon to help out by speaking to the prosecutor. Nixon did so, and the prosecutor, a long-time friend of the judge's, dropped the case. When Nixon was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice, he denied any involvement whatsoever. Subsequently, a federal grand jury was empaneled and he again denied his involvement. He was convicted of making false statements to a grand jury. However, Nixon refused to resign and continued to collect his judicial salary while in prison, until he was impeached and removed from office. Nixon had been convicted in 1986 on perjury charges and sentenced to 5 years in prison.[2]

Nixon appealed his removal to the United States Supreme Court. In Nixon v. United States, handed down in 1993, the Court rejected his appeal as a nonjusticiable political question.[3]

Because Nixon's impeachment was for perjury, the case was cited as a precedent in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.[4][not in citation given][5]

Nixon returned to private practice, in Mississippi and in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He was disbarred in 1990. The State Supreme Court ruled in May 1993 that he could be readmitted to the state bar after passing the exam. He now lives and practices law in Biloxi, Mississippi.

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