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James Hawkins Peck

James Hawkins Peck (12 January 1790 - 29 April 1836) was a son of Revolutionary Soldier Adam Peck and his wife Elizabeth Sharkey Peck. He was a judge of the United States District Court for the district of Missouri. He was the third Judicial officer on whom the United States House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment and was acquitted by the United States Senate.

Peck was appointed by President James Monroe to the federal courts in 1822. Peck was involved in several land claim cases arising out of the Louisiana territory purchase; in one such case in 1825 he ruled against the client of the lawyer Luke Lawless and published his opinion in a St. Louis newspaper the following year.

In response, Lawless posted an anonymous letter rebutting Peck's ruling in another newspaper. The authorship of the letter soon became known and Peck found Lawless in contempt of Court for:

Intent to impair the public confidence in the upright intentions of said court, and to bring odium upon the court, and especially with intent to impress the public mind, and particularly many litigants in this court, that they are not to expect justice in the cases now pending therein.

Peck had Lawless placed in jail for 24 hours and removed his right to practice in a federal court for 18 months. Lawless began a crusade against Peck, which included submitting his own memorial for impeachment to the House. This memorial resulted in Impeachment charges before the US House of Representatives.

He was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on 24 April 1830 on a charge of abuse of the contempt power. The U.S. Senate began the trial of Peck on 26 April 1830 and acquitted him of the charge on 31 January 1831 with 21 votes for removal and 22 votes against. [1] He remained on the bench until his death in 1836.

Source: Wikipedia

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