Thursday, December 20, 2007

A new wrinkle on the federal bench

The tables have turned on Judge Thomas Porteous. The man charged with meting out justice himself faces serious judicial scrutiny -- again. A special investigative panel has referred Judge Porteous, a federal judge in New Orleans, for impeachment proceedings. This is not Judge Porteous' first time under the microscope. His conduct as a state judge (he was named to the federal bench in 1994) came under scrutiny in the 2005 "Wrinkled Robe " investigation that examined alleged official corruption. Although the investigation netted 11 guilty please and jail terms for two state judges, Judge Porteous dodged a bullet. Not this time. He has been dogged by lingering questions about alleged misstatements in financial disclosures, particularly for failing to disclose (allegedly) improper gifts received from attorneys practicing before his Court. He evidently dodged a criminal indictment, but that hasn't put an end to it. He recently returned to the bench after a leave of absence following the loss of his home to Hurricane Katrina, and then his wife. But it looks like his stay may be short lived. Hopefully there will be a dignified end to this saga.