Judicial Impeachment

Judicial Impeachment in the United States

Judicial Impeachment

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, the Constitution is remarkably Delphic on the subject of judicial removal. Article III provides that judges shall hold office during “good Behavior,” but leaves that term undefined and fails to indicate who is authorized to define it (see Article II of the Constitution).

List of Impeachments of Federal Judges

By chronological order:

  • John Pickering, U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 2, 1803, on charges of mental instability and intoxication on the bench; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office on March 12, 1804.
  • Samuel Chase, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 12, 1804, on charges of arbitrary and oppressive conduct of trials; Acquitted by the U.S. Senate on March 1, 1805.
  • James H. Peck, U.S. District Court for the District of Missouri. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 24, 1830, on charges of abuse of the contempt power; Acquitted by the U.S. Senate on January 31, 1831.
  • West H. Humphreys, U.S. District Court for the Middle, Eastern, and Western Districts of Tennessee. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, May 6, 1862, on charges of refusing to hold court and waging war against the U.S. government; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office, June 26, 1862.
  • Mark W. Delahay, U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, February 28, 1873, on charges of intoxication on the bench; Resigned from office, December 12, 1873, before opening of trial in the U.S. Senate.
  • Charles Swayne, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, December 13, 1904, on charges of abuse of contempt power and other misuses of office; Acquitted by the U.S. Senate February 27, 1905.
  • Robert W. Archbald, U.S. Commerce Court. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, July 11, 1912, on charges of improper business relationship with litigants; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office, January 13, 1913.
  • George W. English, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, April 1, 1926, on charges of abuse of power; Resigned from office November 4, 1926; Senate Court of Impeachment adjourned to December 13, 1926, when, on request of the House manager, impeachment proceedings were dismissed.
  • Harold Louderback, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, February 24, 1933, on charges of favoritism in the appointment of bankruptcy receivers; Acquitted by the U.S. Senate on May 24, 1933.
  • Halsted L. Ritter, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, March 2, 1936, on charges of favoritism in the appointment of bankruptcy receivers and practicing law while sitting as a judge; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office, April 17, 1936.
  • Harry E. Claiborne, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, July 22, 1986, on charges of income tax evasion and of remaining on the bench following criminal conviction; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office, October 9, 1986.
  • Alcee L. Hastings, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, August 3, 1988, on charges of perjury and conspiring to solicit a bribe; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office, October 20, 1989.
  • Walter L. Nixon, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, May 10, 1989, on charges of perjury before a federal grand jury; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office, November 3, 1989.
  • Samuel B. Kent, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, June 19, 2009, on charges of sexual assault, obstructing and impeding an official proceeding, and making false and misleading statements; Resigned from office, June 30, 2009. On July 20, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to a resolution not to pursue further the articles of impeachment, and on July 22, 2009, the Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, dismissed the articles.
  • G. Thomas Porteous, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, March 11, 2010, on charges of accepting bribes and making false statements under penalty of perjury; Convicted by the U.S. Senate and removed from office, December 8, 2010.

Judicial Impeachment: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Judicial Impeachment. This part provides references, in relation to Judicial Impeachment, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Judicial Impeachment by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Judicial Impeachment and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Judicial Impeachment or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Judicial Impeachment and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Judicial Impeachment. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Judicial Impeachment should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Judicial Impeachment when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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