Thursday, October 02, 2008

Update on Possible Impeachment of U.S. District Judge for Bankruptcy Fraud

There has been a new development in the case of a U.S. District Judge facing possible impeachment based in part upon his conduct as a Chapter 13 debtor. On September 10, 2008, The Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit issued an Order and Public Reprimand in Docket No. 07-05-351-0085, In re Complaint of Judicial Misconduct Against Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr. under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980. The Order publicly reprimands the Judge for conduct including perjury and violation of ethical canons, orders that no new cases be assigned to him for two years or until Congress completes impeachment proceedings and suspends his authorization to employ staff.

I previously wrote about this case last January after the Fifth Circuit recommended that Judge Porteous be referred for possible impeachment proceedings. Now the Judicial Conference of the United States has accepted the Report and Recommendation from the Judicial Conference fo the Fifth Circuit.

While the Order details substantial misconduct, the following item pertains to his personal bankruptcy case.

Judge Porteous repeatedly committed perjury by signing false statements under oath in a personal bankruptcy proceeding in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 152(1)-(3), 1621 as well as Canons 1 and 2A of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. This perjury allowed him to obtain a discharge of his debts while continuing his lifestyle at the expense of his creditors. His systematic disregard of the Bankruptcy Court's orders also implicates 11 U.S.C. Sec. 521(a)(3) and 18 U.S.C. Sec. 401(1).

Order and Public Reprimand, pp. 2-3.

While a public reprimand and suspension from receiving new cases may sound mild, the Circuit stressed that it was taking the maximum action available to it.

In issuing this Order and Public Reprimand and executing the actions contained herein, the Council is taking the maximum disciplinary steps allowed by law against Judge Porteous. Any further action to remove Judge Porteous from office and the emoluments thereof is the responsibility of Congress.

Order and Public Reprimand, p. 5.

The House Judiciary Committee has formed a task force to investigate the possible impeachment of Judge Porteous.

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