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Landry Suggests Impeaching Judge Who Oversees New Orleans Police

The Louisiana governor took to Facebook to call for the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, after comments Morgan made about the rollout of a dedicated State Police troop for New Orleans.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry on March 25 suggested that the federal judge overseeing reforms to the New Orleans police department be impeached for her handling of the decade-long agreement between the city and the U.S. Justice Department.

On his official Facebook page, Landry took aim at U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, an appointee of President Barack Obama, in response to comments last week from Morgan about the rollout of Troop Nola, a dedicated Louisiana State Police troop for the city.

At a hearing with NOPD brass, Morgan noted that State Police doesn't fall under her purview, but she said that the state agency had been "less than clear" about its plans, including how the new troop will coordinate with NOPD.

"Often the leadership of the State Police have been giving confusing and contradictory information, and in my opinion that's not a good start to this relationship," Morgan said.

"While no one would suggest the people of New Orleans and the NOPD do not want the additional help," Morgan added, "it likewise is true no one wants to return to the practices that brought about the consent decree in the first place."

Landry, who lambasted Morgan and the 2012 police reform agreement on the campaign trail last fall, clapped back.

" Susie Morgan? I have long taken issue with the Federal Court's involvement in purely State matters such as policing," Landry said. "Maybe it's time for our U.S. House delegation to take a look at impeaching Judge Susie Morgan for her prolonged mishandling of the NOPD consent decree."

Landry went on:

"She has distorted the law, decimated the ranks of NOPD, and handcuffed the police rather than the criminals. All of this while the citizens of this great city suffer from violent crime. She refuses to acknowledge crime or end the decree. ... Now having the State Police in New Orleans gives her concern?"

Impeachment of federal judges, who hold lifetime appointments, is exceedingly rare.

The last, G. Thomas Porteous, a former state judge in Jefferson Parish who rose to a spot on the Eastern District of Louisiana's bench, was impeached and removed by the U.S. Senate in 2010.

The Senate found that Porteous took money from attorneys and bail bondsmen with business before the court, lied in his 2001 personal bankruptcy filing and concealed the corruption in statements to the Senate during his confirmation for a federal judgeship.

The Senate convicted Porteous of four articles of impeachment for corrupt dealings as both a state and federal judge. One of eight federal judges ever tossed from office, Porteous died in 2021.

Porteous fit the bill for the "high crimes and misdemeanors" that the U.S. Constitution contemplates along with convictions for treason or bribery in the impeachment clause, said Arthur Hellman, a professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

It's the same clause that applies to presidents and other federal officers. It never succeeds when applied to judges for their decisions from the bench, Hellman said.

A failed, politically motivated effort to impeach an early U.S. Supreme Court justice, Samuel Chase, in 1804, set a standard that has endured, he said.

"There's been a broad consensus that the independence of federal judges excludes the possibility of impeachment based on decisions alone," Hellman said.

"Putting aside if you could show the judge had been bribed to reach a particular decision. But a bad decision, even a terrible decision that did a lot of harm, would not be a basis for impeachment."

(c)2024 The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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