The U.S. Court of Appeals here yesterday upheld a key provision of the 1980 judicial reform act, which allows the nation's highest judicial administrative body to notify the House of Representatives when there may be grounds for impeachment of a federal judge.
While dismissing this and other claims by U.S. District Court Judge Alcee L. Hastings, who is being investigated for possible impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee, the appeals court sent the case back to U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard A. Gesell to determine whether Hastings' due process rights were violated during the investigation.
Several observers said the decision is not expected to affect the possible impeachment, the process by which a federal official is removed.
Hastings, who sits in Miami, was indicted in 1981 with former D.C. defense attorney William A. Borders and charged with conspiracy to solicit and accept money in return for dismissing criminal charges against two Miami men.
Borders was convicted, but Hastings was acquitted. Shortly after Hastings' trial, two district court judges filed a complaint with the Judicial Council of the 11th Circuit alleging that Hastings was guilty of conspiracy and had invented a story to cover his guilt.
After a lengthy investigation, which included several court challenges to the judicial reform act, the Judicial Council voted in August 1986 to certify to the U.S. Judicial Conference that impeachment should be considered. Last March, the conference agreed with the council's conclusions and sent the matter to the House.