You be the judge – Impeachment hearing of Louisiana federal judge Thomas Porteous begins today UPDATED 2x

Impeachment of federal judge, Louisiana federal district judge Thomas Porteous

Congressional hearings on the potential impeachment of U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous of Metairie that begin today in Washington follow Porteous’ filing of a motion for TRO last Friday and a weekend whirlwind of legal documents flying back and forth before a federal court denied the motion yesterday.

The TRO motion and defendant’s response are among the linked documents that follow the brief background below.

Over the weekend, two readers sent links to the same story – one published in the Washington Post and the other in the Times Picayune – but anywhere you read the latest from Louisiana federal judge Thomas Porteous, it’s an incredible story:

A Louisiana federal judge sued a House impeachment task force Friday, contending the panel is making the case for his ouster by using testimony he gave under a promise of immunity.

U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. is under investigation for alleged misconduct, including an allegation that he accepted money from lawyers involved in a trial over which he presided.

The suit, in U.S. District Court, said the House task force violated Porteous’ Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. The task force used immunized testimony in witness interviews and to formulate strategy, the suit said.

Monday, a federal judge in Washington denied Judge Porteous’ motion.

A federal court refused Monday to issue a temporary restraining order to block the opening of congressional hearings today into the potential impeachment of U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous of Metairie.

But Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said attorneys for Porteous may still file for a preliminary injunction later this year, though he counseled that their chances for success are a “very, very long shot.”

Richard Westling, representing Porteous, said he will consult with his client and let the court know his decision Nov. 30.

Irvin Nathan, general counsel for the House of Representatives, argued against the temporary restraining order, saying that if Leon had granted it, it would have been the first time in history that a court had tried to block any kind of congressional hearing…

Nathan argued that the Justice Department long ago decided not to prosecute Porteous and that impeachment is explicitly not a criminal proceeding. It is also, he said, a congressional responsibility wholly beyond the power of the court.

Westling countered that impeachment is, in effect, a “quasi-criminal” proceeding that could lead to Porteous being removed from office and barred from holding future federal office. That would happen if the House impeaches Porteous and the Senate convicts him.

Leon told Westling there was “just no precedent” for his pleading that Porteous’ Fifth Amendment rights were being compromised in the impeachment proceedings. Westling replied that impeachment cases are very rare, and that he does not think there has ever been an impeachment case where immunized testimony was being used to help construct the case against the defendant.

Even without a temporary restraining order, Leon said, Porteous faces no imminent danger of lasting harm. While the House Judiciary Committee task force will hold its first hearings today and Wednesday on the Porteous case, Leon said the full House probably will not vote until the spring on whether to impeach Porteous and send his case to the Senate for trial.

Eight potential witnesses have been granted immunity to testify before the impeachment task force.

Before his appointment to the bench, Leon was counsel to Congress in the investigation of three sitting presidents, including in the Iran-Contra and Whitewater cases. He was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush.

Some wonder if Congress is having flashbacks to the recent Impeachment of Texas federal Judge Sam Kent.

You be the Judge.  Is Congress denying Porteous his rights under the Fifth Amendment?

  • Motions (with exhibits to follow)

Plaintiff:  Judge Thomas Porteous

Defendant: ALAN BARON, Special Counsel, Impeachment Task Force, Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives, et al.

News from the Hearing

Lawyers secretly paid Judge… (11/17/09)

14 thoughts on “You be the judge – Impeachment hearing of Louisiana federal judge Thomas Porteous begins today UPDATED 2x”

  1. The case of Judge Porteous presents the readers of SLABBED with an extremely archane and complicated area of constitutional and criminal law. So let me try to “keep-it-simple, Stupid!” If the truth be known, Judge Porteous’ “habits” were well-known before he was ever nominated to be a Federal Judge by President Clinton, while Judge Porteous was still on the State Court Bench in Jefferson Parish. Let me be “brutally honest”: Judge Porteous should NEVER have been nominated, and once nominated, should never have “passed” the FBI investigation, or been confirmed by Congress. But once nominated, and once “past” the FBI investigation, and once confirmed by Congress to a “lifetime job”, Judge Porteous thought he was “bullet-proof”, and not without good reason. However, the character of the man didn’t really “change” once he made the transition from the State Court Bench to the Federal Court Bench, although I believe he consciously tried to (and did) comport himself with a bit more “dignity” with an address at 500 Poydras Street, than if he had remained “in ‘da Pa-wish”. As a tax-paying U.S. citizen, I blame former President Clinton, his political “cronies”, the FBI and Congress for what has recently “happened” to G. Thomas Porteous, as much as I “blame” (a very poor word, because I really feel very sorry for the Judge and his Family) the Judge himself. In retrospect, Judge Porteous was an “accident waiting to happen”, and was NEVER well-suited for the Federal Bench without lowering the bar, too low. But then the Bench of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana “ain’t what it used to be”. Judge Porteous’ failures are the Court’s failures as well, and they all (the Judges, that is) deserve what’s coming to them.

  2. I’m surprised certain readers are not jumping to the defense of Porteous like they did for Joan Benge. Same modus operandi, different courthouse. The Jefferson Parish courthouse has been breeding some filthy judges for decades, whether they remain there or get a “promotion” to Federal Court. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good ones, but with corrupt individuals like Benge and Porteous, it’s always “who you know,” not what you know.

    I await the spirited defense of Porteous by his supporter(s).

  3. I actually went to high school and am friends with one of Judge Porteous’ sons.

    His personal relationships should not be grounds for impeachment. However, if he allowed personal relationships to influence his judgment in a case then he should be removed.

    Why don’t you ask around the legal community for an opinion on Joan Benge or Judge Porteous?

    I know what the consensus is on Joan; she was a very good Judge who was liked by both sides, i.e. prosecutor and plaintiff as well as criminal/civil defense.

    Her decision at issue was supported by the law and the evidence and regardless of what she said, the appropriate remedy was not removal from the bench. I promise you that the consensus within the legal community is that the Supremes’ decision was wrong and too harsh. Heck, the prosecuting authority recommended a six (6) month suspension I believe.

    Why was she “corrupt”? What did she do that was “corrupt”?

  4. Joan Benge awarded damages to a plaintiff when she clearly believed he should have been “zeroed.” But, she liked Venizia, a campagin contributor, so she awarded money to the plaintiff. That is corruption at its essence.

    These 2 “judges” are corrupt. NRB seems to think that just because he knows somebody or their relatives, that makes the person a good judge. And, NRB’s “consensus” on Benge is way off the mark. Read the general comments on NOLA.com and you’ll find the opposite consensus on both Benge and Porteous.

  5. To NRB: I know that you’ve known former Judge Benge and her Family for a long time, but she got what she “asked for”. Although I “hate” her, personally, Chief “Injustice” Kimball’s written opinion is a scathing indictment of Benge’s CORRUPTION, which is well-documented. The “buzz”, though, is that The Supreme Court HAD to remove Benge (who is Caucasian) from the Bench, because they are about to remove C. Hunter King (who is Negro) from the Bench, and they were afraid that the Louisiana Supreme Court would be accused of “racism” by virtue of treating a white more leniently than a black. Isn’t our “System of Justice” wonderful?

  6. I believe Hunter King was removed from the bench long ago, which would mean that the Benge opinion could have NOTHING to do with Hunter King.

  7. O.K Sock Puppet: Thanks for pointing out the fact that I was “mixing metaphors”. C. Hunter King has, indeed, been removed from the Bench already (it’s “hard” to keep track of all the elected Judges in the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area who have been stripped of their offices due to criminal conduct). What I was “thinking” about when I made my most recent comment was King’s recent appearance before the Louseyanna Supreme Court in an effort to keep his law license. So: Right church; wrong pew. He’s a SCUM-BAG who is unworthy to sit on the Bench or to hold a law license (but then there are a “lot” of people in that category). The “buzz” on the street is that his law license is “toast”, but that the Court had to throw Benge “under the bus” to avoid a claim of racial prejudice.

  8. The Benge ruling has about as much to do with racial prejudice as the Bodenheimer opinion did . . . which is NOTHING! Who is this ” buzz” saying otherwise?

    Trying to blame the Benge opinion, in any way, on race issues does a great disservice to the La. Sup. Ct.’s “well documented opinion.”

  9. To: Sock Puppet: O.K. We disagree, which is what the First Amendment and SLABBED is all about. I first picked up the “racial” angle regarding Benge’s removal from the Bench and King’s attempt to save his law license (you’re “right”; Hunter has already been “dis-robed”) from Professor Bernofsky’s Web-Site. Any other questions? I have one for you: Are you a lawyer by education? Thanks, and keep “keeping me straight”. AROD.

  10. This case shows the media and American people that the balance of powers doctrine is alive and well.

    Phil Stimac
    The Elite Lawyers and Judges Whistleblower Network of America
    Visit us at “theeliteones.com”

  11. Judge Sam Kent is in prison, while Samuel Kent Brownlee was shot dead! People named Sam Kent should (possibly) think twice before working at law. It seems 21st century is really bad news for guys named Samuel Kent! Brownlee is with the Lord.

  12. There is another Kent, the middle name of James Kent Leeward! Leeward was killed in a crash, while yet another gentleman with the name Kent, Randall Kent Burris, was killed in an accident and died a hero. People with the middle name Kent should think twice before you find a difficult job. It seems the 21st century is really bad news for guys have middle name Kent!

  13. V.E.G: And, let’s not forget Clark Kent “Superman” who shot himself to death with a Krytonite bullet because he had stereotyped his role as Superman !

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