Judge Hastings’ Impeachment by Senate Panel Is Overturned

Times Staff and Wire Reports

A federal judge on Thursday overturned the impeachment of former U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings on grounds that he did not receive a fair trial by the Senate.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin said Hastings’ 1989 ouster was unfair because a 12-member Senate committee, rather than the full Senate, conducted the impeachment trial.

Sporkin, saying the issue “will clearly be settled by the Supreme Court,” did not order a new trial so that the case can be appealed. Hastings was not reinstated to the bench because Sporkin stayed his own order “until the issue has been decided on appeal.”

Hastings, Florida’s first black federal district judge, was convicted by the Senate on Oct. 20, 1989, of eight impeachment articles charging him with perjury and conspiracy to obtain a $150,000 payoff. He had been acquitted of those charges by a jury in a criminal trial six years earlier.

Hastings, who recently qualified for the Oct. 1 Democratic runoff for the 23rd Congressional District seat, called the ruling “a measure of vindication and very satisfying. For the moment it feels good to be unimpeached.”