Impeachment Trial of Federal Judge Raises Issue of ‘Kickbacks’

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The impeachment trial of U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. is continuing before a U.S. Senate committee. Porteous, a federal judge in New Orleans, is accused of four counts of corruption. Each count is referred to as an article of impeachment.

The first article of impeachment involves what some have described as a “kickback” scheme. Porteous, as a state court judge before he was named to the federal bench by President Clinton in 1994, frequently appointed lawyers from the firm of Amato & Creely as “curators” in cases. In Louisiana, curators are assigned by judges to represent civil defendants whom a plaintiff cannot locate, such as targets of home foreclosures. In exchange for these small legal assignments, the firm allegedly gave Porteous small amounts of money. This article alleges that the firm received about $40,000 for the curatorships and paid the judge a total of about $20,000.

The article of impeachment, notably, does not use the term “kickback,” which implies a corrupt quid pro quo payment – i.e., one made to the judge in exchange for a judicial act. The two lawyers involved, Jacob Amato and Robert Creely, who were called as prosecution witnesses in the impeachment case, testified that they gave money to the judge out of friendship, not in exchange for the curatorships.

However, it seems possible to us that Porteous could be convicted on this count without any need for the impeachment prosecutors, who are members of the House of Representatives, to prove such a direct link.

Please see full article below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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