Tuesday, September 14, 2010

All Justice Is Local

The impeachment of Federal Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. in the House of Representatives, by a unanimous vote in March of this year, now goes to trial in the U.S. Senate.

Most of the case turns on what Porteous did as a state judge, not as a federal judge.

As a state judge he would send administrative cases to cronies who would kick back about half of the income from those cases.

That stopped when he became a federal judge, however, he presided over a case in which about 13 federal judges had already recused themselves.

While that case was still pending, before the final judgment, Judge Porteus was given some $2,000 by one of the plaintiff's lawyers.

Judge Porteus eventually ruled in the plaintiff's favor to the tune of a $15,000,000 dollar judgment.

A massive FBI investigation ("Operation Wrinkled Robe") uncovered judicial misbehaviour, but the grand jury did not indict Judge Porteus, thus there was no criminal charge, trial, or verdict against him.

Thus, this case is the first time or one of the only times a federal judge has been impeached without a prior criminal conviction.

The defense is based in part upon a theory that corruption exists everywhere, some places worse than others, but that is a local matter akin to state's rights.

In other words, they are arguing that since all the judges in Jefferson Parish, specifically the city of Gretna, are corrupt in some degree, you can't finger just one of them because that constitutes discriminatory selective prosecution.

They go on to say that since he is retiring next year anyway, and since there was no criminal charge or trial in a federal district court, that there is no ample federal record or reason upon which to base an impeachment.

The trial will get into some of the statistical evidence of corruption in various states, and should be interesting.

UPDATE 9/15: The testimony is beginning to convince me that Professor Turley, the judge's lead counsel, expressed the heart of this case when he mentioned that a large health care corporation located in Louisiana entered into a written contract with a New Orleans law firm to get the judge thrown off a case against them.

This judge had a reputation for being for the common folk instead of the big corporations, therefore he was a target.

The judge ran into some financial problems during the several-year time-frame of the case, which eventually led to a bankruptcy filing.

After the trial was over and the decision was pending for over a year, the judge borrowed / was given some money by one of his friends, who happened to be a lawyer in the case on the side of the plaintiffs.

That was picked up by the FBI operatives and somehow the health care corporation got wind of it, then instigated the current congressional impeachment.

This post is part of the (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) Dredd Blog System series "All _______ Is local"; here are some sample posts:

All Weather Is Local

All Security Is Local

All Ocean Experience Is Local

All Ecological Disasters Are Local

No comments:

Post a Comment