Harry Eugene Claiborne (July 2, 1917 – January 19, 2004) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada from 1978 until his impeachment and removal in 1986. Appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, Claiborne was only the fifth person in United States history to be removed from office through impeachment by the United States Congress and the first since Halsted Ritter in 1936. He was the first federal judge to be sent to prison.

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  • Harry Eugene Claiborne (July 2, 1917 – January 19, 2004) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada from 1978 until his impeachment and removal in 1986. Appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, Claiborne was only the fifth person in United States history to be removed from office through impeachment by the United States Congress and the first since Halsted Ritter in 1936. He was the first federal judge to be sent to prison. Claiborne was born in 1917 in McRae, Arkansas. He attended Ouachita Baptist University and Cumberland School of Law where he received a Bachelor of Laws before serving in the United States Army during World War II. After the war he settled in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he established himself as a flamboyant and well-known defense attorney representing many prominent people with ties to Las Vegas, including entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, and Carol Burnett, and mobsters like Bugsy Siegel, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, Joe Conforte, and Benny Binion. Claiborne served one term as a Democratic state assemblyman and ran unsuccessfully against Howard Cannon in the 1964 Democratic primary for the United States Senate in Nevada. The two remained friends, however, and Cannon later recommended Claiborne to President Carter for an open federal district court judicial seat in 1978. He rose to Chief Judge of the United States district court in Nevada and held that position from 1980 to 1986. Claiborne was convicted in 1984 of tax evasion and served 17 months of a two-year prison sentence before his release in 1987. In 1986 the United States House of Representatives impeached him and the United States Senate convicted him and removed him from office. His impeachment proceedings set a controversial new precedent of using a special twelve-member committee to collect and hear evidence, rather than the full Senate. He maintained that the Justice Department had a vendetta against him and improperly obtained the false testimony of brothel owner Joe Conforte, one of Claiborne's former clients. Claiborne was allowed to begin practicing law again in Nevada in 1987 in a decision by the Nevada Supreme Court that implicitly questioned the federal prosecution. In 2004 he committed suicide through a self-inflicted gunshot wound following health battles with cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. (en)
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  • Harry Eugene Claiborne (July 2, 1917 – January 19, 2004) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada from 1978 until his impeachment and removal in 1986. Appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, Claiborne was only the fifth person in United States history to be removed from office through impeachment by the United States Congress and the first since Halsted Ritter in 1936. He was the first federal judge to be sent to prison. (en)
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  • Harry E. Claiborne (en)
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  • male (en)
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