Welcome Gavel Grab readers!
The (probably?) single biggest year in history for efforts to impeach state judges has just gotten one bill bigger.
On May 4, Missouri House member Rochelle Walton Gray filed HR 3102, articles of impeachment against St. Louis Circuit Judge John A. Ross. The articles were filed the same day Judge Ross was set to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee as it considered his nomination for an appointment to the federal bench for the Eastern District of Missouri.
The articles accuse Judge Ross of “judicial activism” and racial discrimination in the case of Buchek v. Washington, et. al., Cause No. 09SL-CC04530, for failure to follow legal precedence (and specifying the cases allegedly not followed) and other accusations related to the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District, whose board membership the articles claim is made up of black elected officials. The district’s former attorney, Elbert Walton Jr., is the father of Rochelle Walton Gray, the Missouri House Representative that authored HR 3102.
The articles of impeachment read very much like the letter sent by Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay in opposition to Judge Ross’ appointment to the federal bench (as per this article in the Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly). The Clay letter contained as an attachment a letter (described by local media as “meandering”) from “Citizens for Fairness in the Appointment of Judges” (led by Elbert Walton, Jr. and Rep. Walton Gray) to Sen. Claire McCaskill, sections of which appear to have been repeated verbatim in HR 3102.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Judge Ross denied the statements in the Clay letter, suggesting it “contains significant inaccuracies.”
Despite being filed on May 4, HR 3102 was not referred to a committee (House Judiciary) until May 13, the day the legislature concluded floor sessions. Formal adjournment sine die will occur May 26 or 27. Because Missouri bills do not carry over from session to session, it appears no action will take place regarding HR 3102.
An updated list of pending impeachment/judicial removal efforts can be found below the fold:
|State||Bill||Form of removal||Target||Reason for removal request||Status|
|Iowa||HR 47||Impeachment||Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel||Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien||Pending, probably dead|
|Iowa||HR 48||Impeachment||Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady||Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien||Pending, probably dead|
|Iowa||HR 49||Impeachment||Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht||Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien||Pending, probably dead|
|Iowa||HR 50||Impeachment||Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins||Same sex marriage decision Varnum v. Brien||Pending, probably dead|
|Massachusetts||HB 2172||Bill of address||Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland||Unknown||Pending|
|Massachusetts||HB 2172||Bill of address||Supreme Judicial Court Justice Francis X. Spina||Unknown||Pending|
|Massachusetts||HB 2172||Bill of address||Supreme Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin||Unknown||Pending|
|Massachusetts||HB 2172||Bill of address||Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert J. Cordy||Unknown||Pending|
|Missouri||HR 3102||Impeachment||Circuit Court Judge John A. Ross||Decisions in Buchek v. Washington||Pending, probably dead|
|New Hampshire||HR 7||Impeachment||Marital Master Phillip Cross||Decisions in custody/divorce cases||Investigation approved by House|
|New Hampshire||HR 7||Impeachment||“any justice of the New Hampshire superior court”||Decisions in custody/divorce cases||Investigation approved by House|
|New Jersey||SR 105||Impeachment||Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto||Refusal to vote in some cases||Request for resignation or impeachment approved by Senate|
|Oklahoma||HR 1001||Request for removal by judicial disciplinary commission||District Judge Thomas Bartheld||Failure to reject negotiated plea bargain in child sex abuse case||Pending, probably dead (adjourn 5/27)|
|Oklahoma||HR 1005||Impeachment request to Congress||U.S. District Court Judge Vickie Miles-LaGrange||“Abuse of authority” for issuing an injunction against state’s sharia law ban||Pending, probably dead (adjourn 5/27)|
|Oklahoma||HR 1006||Request for removal by judicial disciplinary commission||District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure||36 felony counts, including four counts of perjury and 32 counts of fraudulent claim||Pending, probably dead (adjourn 5/27)|
|Oklahoma||HR 1024||Request for removal by judicial disciplinary commission||District Judge Tom Lucas||Denial of blanket recusal motion by DA||Pending, probably dead (adjourn 5/27)|
|Pennsylvania||HR 124||Impeachment||Court of Common Pleas Judge Willis W. Berry, Jr.||Use of his office and judicial secretary for a decade to “assist him in the day-to-day operations concerning his properties.”||Pending|