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Senate removes federal judge for first time since 1989

WASHINGTON — The Senate today, and for the first time since 1989, voted to remove a federal judge from office, convicting Fifth Circuit Judge G. Thomas Porteous on all four of the impeachment counts against him.

Amy Klobuchar voted guilty on all four counts; Franken voted guilty for two of the four. Klobuchar also previously sat on the Senate committee that reviewed the charges against Porteous.

Porteous was accused of deliberately falsifying campaign documents and consistently failing to recuse himself from cases involving people who had paid him thousands of dollars in cash before trial and falsifying a bankruptcy to clear out his debts before retirement.

His defense lawyer argued that Porteous is “something of a moocher” who made mistakes that don’t rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that are required for an impeachment conviction. He also used a defense my mother never accepted either — that everybody does it, so it’s not that bad.

Further reading:

Comprehensive coverage from the New Orleans Times Picayune. Defense counsel Jonathan Turley has a detailed breakdown of the defense on his blog here. And a bit of trivia (c/o CQ’s Niels Lesniewski): One of the two judges removed in 1989, the last time that happened, was Alcee Hastings, who is now a member of Congress.

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