Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Who Better to Advise on Judges Than … Alcee Hastings?!?

A follow-up to my posts on the effort by House Democrats in Florida to invade the blue-slip turf of Florida’s two Republican senators:

According to this Politico article, Rep. Alcee Hastings has taken the lead, along with (as I had reported) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in setting up their own screening panels for district-judge, U.S. Attorney, and U.S. Marshal positions in Florida.

It’s amazing that the Biden White House would allow Hastings to play this role.

Hastings was appointed by Jimmy Carter as a federal district judge in Florida in 1979, but, as this Senate history of his impeachment trial documents, he was quickly indicted by a federal grand jury for “conspiracy and obstruction of justice for soliciting a $150,000 bribe in return for reducing the sentences of two mob-connected felons convicted in Hastings’ court.” After he was acquitted,

suspicions arose that Hastings had lied and falsified evidence during the trial in order to obtain an acquittal. A special committee of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals began a new probe into the Hastings case. The resulting three-year investigation ended with the panel concluding that Hastings did indeed commit perjury, tamper with evidence, and conspire to gain financially by accepting bribes. The panel recommended further action to the U.S. Judicial Conference, which, in turn, informed the House of Representatives on March 17, 1987, that Judge Alcee Hastings should be impeached and removed from office.

In 1988, the Democrat-controlled House voted 413 to 3 in favor of 17 articles of impeachment. “Charges included conspiracy, bribery, perjury, falsifying documents, thwarting a criminal investigation, and undermining the public confidence ‘in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’” After trial, the Democrat-controlled Senate obtained the necessary two-thirds vote to convict him on eight of the charges.

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