Senate to begin deliberations on impeachment of federal judge

WASHINGTON– This week, the Senate will begin deliberations on a historic constitutional proceeding, the impeachment trial of U.S. District Court Judge G. Thomas Porteous from the Eastern District of Louisiana. The Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on four articles of impeachment over the course of the week.
After the House of Representatives in March approved the articles of impeachment against Judge Porteous, the Senate was tasked with trying the case and deciding whether or notto convict him of the four articles.The Senate Impeachment Trial Committee, led by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), as chairman, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) as vice-chairman, was responsible for receiving evidence and hearing testimony on behalf of the entire Senate. After hearing almost 40 hours of testimony in September, the committee will present their summary of the evidence to the full Senate next week. Senators will then hear closing arguments from Judge Porteous’ lawyers and the House Impeachment Managers and will deliberate and vote on the articles. A conviction on any of the four articles is enough to remove the judge from office.
“The responsibility to try all impeachments is one of few given directly to the Senate by our founding fathers and it is not something we should take lightly. One of the reasons America has such a vibrant democracy is because we have checks and balances between the three branches of government. I know my colleagues on the committee have given thoughtful and serious consideration to the evidence presented, and I look forward to the full Senate’s deliberations at this historic moment,” SenatorMcCaskill said.
“The possibility of removing a federal judge from office is a very serious matter, but the impeachment process is about protecting the public trust.  Thankfully, the Senate has rarely had to conduct an impeachment trial, but we will do our duty fairly,” Senator Hatch said.
Judge Porteous is only the 18th impeached federal official to be tried in the Senate. The House passed four articles of impeachment that allege the judge engaged in a pattern of conduct incompatible with the trust and confidence placed in him as a judge, including improper relationships with lawyers and bail bondsmen appearing in his courtroom and making false statements related to his personal bankruptcy.  The articles also allege the judge knowingly made false statements to the U.S. Senate and the Federal Bureau of Investigation during his confirmation process. He is currently suspended from hearing cases by the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
Tuesday on the Senate floor, the full Senate will consider the report of the Impeachment Trial Committee, hear closing arguments, and then, as is required by the rules of the body, deliberate on the articles in closed session. Votes on the four articles of impeachment will occur in open session and will be broadcast on C-SPAN 2The Impeachment committee’s report includes a neutral summary of the case, the transcripts of the hearings, and the documents admitted into the record. The committee does not make a recommendation on whether or not the judge should be convicted.

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