Catching up on the ironing – Operation Wrinkled Robe and the Impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous

The “good news” is Sop “saved the day” – actually, he “saved” and published my “Say not” post after my computer locked yesterday.  The “bad news” is that my post was missing a link – literally and figuratively!

“Missing links”  appear to be the hallmark of the impeachable conduct of Judge Thomas Porteous –  many, no doubt,  hidden beneath the wrinkles in his robe .

In the interest of “catching up on the ironing”, I’ll first set up the board; i.e., a chronology of events relative to the impeachment charges against Porteous:

He was a judge on the 24th Judicial District Court of Louisiana from 1984 to 1994…nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana… and confirmed by the United States Senate on October 7, 1994… In 2001, Porteous filed for bankruptcy, which led to revelations in the press about his private life, specifically the fact that he was alleged to have had close ties with local bail bond magnate Louis Marcotte III, at the center of a corruption probe, which has more recently led to his being the subject of investigation himself by federal investigators. In May 2006, Porteous, beset by the recent loss of his home due to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the death of his wife a few months later, and still under investigation by a federal grand jury, was granted temporary medical leave and began a year-long furlough from the federal bench.

“On June 18, 2008 the Judicial Conference of the United States transmitted a certificate[8] to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing the Conference’s determination that consideration of impeachment of Porteous might be warranted” and, on March 11, 2010, the House passed a four-article Resolution of Impeachment.

The outrage over Porteous’ current effort to “game the system”, defeat the impeachment charges and return to the bench is due in part to his past success in “gaming the system” as stated in Article IV of the charges: Porteous “knowingly made material false statements about his past to both the United States Senate and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to obtain the office of United States District Court Judge”.

Although mentioned in the Times-Picayune Chronology of Operation Wrinkled Robe, Porteous was not charged in the investigation; but, on May 18, 2007,  “In a 22-page letter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department recounts its investigation of Porteous and concluded:

…issues Of statute of limitations, the materiality of the alleged false statements, the government’s twin burdens of proof and unanimity at trial, and the availability of alternative remedies persuaded the Department that criminal prosecution was not warranted.  The results of the FBI’s investigation into allegations of misconduct concerning Judge Porteous, however, raise serious doubts about his suitability for office under the constitutional standard of good behavior on which that service is contingent. The instances of Judge Porteous’s dishonesty in his own sworn statements and court filings, his decade-long course of conduct in soliciting and accepting a stream of payments and gifts from litigants and lawyers with matters before him, and his repeated failures to disclose those dealings to interested parties and the Court all render him unfit as an Article III judge. Based on the of alternative remedies of pervasive misconduct described herein, the Department respectfully submits this complaint for any further action Your Honor may deem warranted.

Impeachment, obviously, was one of those alternative remedies and in April 2008, the sent a letter to the  the Judicial Conference of the U.S., the policymaking body of the judiciary, and 5th Circuit recommended an impeachment action be brought against Porteous.  In September 2008, noting the absence of Congressional action, the 5th Circuit’s took matters in hand:

The circuit’s Judicial Council ordered all his cases removed for two years, or until Congress acts on the impeachment request, removed Porteous’ staff and issued a public reprimand, along with hundreds of pages of previously secret documents in the investigation.

This past June, a new wrinkle was added:

The Senate Impeachment Trial Committee…voted unanimously to move Porteous’ anticipated weeklong trial from Aug. 2 until Sept. 13, meaning a Senate vote on whether to remove the judge probably won’t occur until October at the earliest.

This reality of this wrinkle set in like a deep crease – the 5th Circuit imposed suspension ends Sept. 10! One can only guess at how it might iron out but, needless to say, there are plenty of steamed up folks in Louisiana ready to remove Porteous’ robe and press the wrinkles.

2 thoughts on “Catching up on the ironing – Operation Wrinkled Robe and the Impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous”

  1. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOwweeeeeeeeeeeeee Nice post Nowdy. I’ll have to see if I can tune in c-span on my big screen in the trees to see Ole’ Orteous’ tried at HIS trial. It should be better than oj’s trial.Maybe we will get to see Orteous’ secret weapon which he is holding hidden in an unknown silo and only going to use if the trial goes “nuclear”.OOOOoooooooooooowweeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  2. Thanks, George, it was “Porteous lite” but this has been going on so long, I thought the background might be helpful to new readers and others might appreciate a “refresher”.

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