A federal judge impeached by the House fought to hang onto his job in a dramatic personal appeal on the Senate floor and then sat in silence as lawmakers denounced him for "inexcusable breaches of the public trust."
Standing before the Senate, District Judge Alcee L. Hastings of Miami declared Wednesday he had been acquitted by a jury in 1983 of charges of plotting to get a $150,000 bribe and said "five years of post-acquittal investigation has produced no new evidence.""I proclaimed my innocence then as I have from the outset and as I do now," said Hastings, the first black federal judge in Florida history.
Nearby sat Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, who resigned as a federal judge to come to the Senate, his expression alert but noncommittal. A few desks away, Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Ala., former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, thumbed through law books and leaned forward from time to time to gaze at Hastings.
The Senate planned a closed-door session Thursday to consider the appeal from Hastings and his attorney, Terence J. Anderson, for dismissal of all but one of the 17 articles of impeachment approved by the House 413-3 on Aug. 3.
Hastings, 52, would remain free if convicted but would lose his seat on the federal bench and his $89,500 annual salary.