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Alcee Hastings Trial and Impeachment: 1983 & 1989

The Alleged Plot, The Trial, Phase Two, The Impeachment Trial, Hastings Rebounds

Defendant Alcee L. Hasting
Crimes Charged: Trial: Conspiracy to solicit and accept money in return for unlawful influence in the performance of lawful government functions and for corruptly impeding due administration of justice. Impeachment: Fifteen articles detailing charges of conspiracy to accept a bribe and for making false statements and falsifying evidence throughout the investigation and trial; one article for leaking confidential wiretap information; and one article for bringing disrepute to the Federal Courts
Chief Defense Lawyers: Trial: Alcee Hastings, Patricia Williams; Impeachment: Terry Anderson, Patricia Williams
Chief Prosecutors: Trial: Reid Weingarten; Impeachment: Six "trial managers" from the House of Representatives, headed by John Bryant (D) of Texas
Judges: Trial: Edward T. Gignoux; Impeachment: The U.S. Senate, with Senator Robert C. Byrd, president pro tem, presiding
Places: Trial: Miami, Florida; Impeachment: Washington, D.C.
Dates: Trial: January 19-February 4, 1983; Impeachment: October 18-20, 1989
Verdicts: Trial: Not guilty; Impeachment: Guilty on eight articles, which included charges of conspiracy to obtain a bribe and of committing perjury and falsifying documents during the investigation and 1983 trial. Not guilty of leaking confidential wiretap information
Penalty: Removed from federal bench

SIGNIFICANCE: This is the only instance in American history where a Federal official was first tried by a criminal court and, after being acquitted, was then impeached by the U.S. Congress for the same crime. What makes it even more extraordinary is that the individual in question then went on to be elected to the very U.S. House of Representatives that had impeached him.

In 1979, Alcee L. Hastings, the son of domestic servants, became, at age 43, the first African American to be named to the federal bench in Florida. As a member and supporter of numerous local and national civic and social organizations, he was understandably the pride of his home state's black community. It came as a special shock, then, when in December 1981, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced that Hastings was being charged with engaging in a plot to solicit and accept a bribe in return for giving a more lenient sentence to convicted criminals.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988