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Professor testifies about impeachment of judge

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Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Charles G. Geyh appeared before the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on the Judiciary Tuesday as a witness in its hearing on the possible impeachment of U.S. District Judge Thomas G. Porteous of New Orleans. This is the second time in less than a week the professor has appeared before the House.

In his testimony Tuesday, Geyh delivered his opinion on what he called "ethical concerns of the most extreme sort" by Judge Porteous. The judge is accused of accepting cash and other gifts from attorneys who appeared before his court. Judge Porteous also refused to recuse himself from a case where the defendant had a close relationship with the judge's friend.

Geyh testified Judge Porteous' conduct entailed a gross abuse of judicial power that showed a complete disregard for the core ethical qualities a judge should display.

"Having improperly solicited thousands of dollars from a lawyer while he was representing a party in a case pending before him, the need for Judge Porteous to disqualify himself was even more plain, rendering his erroneous failure to withdraw more obviously willful," Geyh said. "It is utterly inconceivable that a reasonable person would not question the impartiality of a judge who solicited thousands of dollars from a lawyer in a pending matter."

Geyh was one of three national experts called to testify during Tuesday's hearing. He also testified regarding judicial disqualification before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Dec. 10.

If Judge Porteous is impeached by the House, it would be the first time in more than 20 years a federal judge was impeached. The U.S. Senate would then hold a trial to determine whether the judge should be removed.

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