Senate wraps up Porteous impeachment hearings

Alejandro de los Rios Dec. 8, 2010, 2:12am


The U.S. Senate has finished its last day of hearings regarding the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous of the Eastern District of Louisiana and will vote on whether to convict him this morning.

At the hearings, which were broadcast on C-SPAN and through a Web video stream, defense attorneys argued that the charges against their client are vague and violate the U.S. Constitution.

Washington D.C. attorney Jonathan Turley represented Porteous at the hearing. He argued that Porteous' actions do not constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors" as constitutionally required for impeachment. He also argued some of the alleged conduct happened before Porteus became a federal judge.

"No one has ever been removed from office on the basis of pre-federal conduct," Turley said.

The Senate hearings came after the House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of four articles of impeachment against Porteous in March. This marks just the 16th such Senate impeachment trial, and Porteous could become the 8th federal judge to be convicted.

The charges against Porteous include inappropriately accepting cash and favors from lawyers in his court starting in the 1980s through 1994 when he was appointed.

Porteous also is charged with lying on bankruptcy papers and to the Senate while he was being confirmed to the federal bench.

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