Ways Congress Could Deal With Traficant Felony Conviction - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Ways Congress Could Deal With Traficant Felony Conviction

Under U.S. House rules, a felony conviction triggers an automatic investigation by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly known as the ethics committee.

The investigation could start anytime after a guilty verdict, even if an appeal is pending.

The investigation starts with a bipartisan four-member panel charged with reviewing transcripts and evidence to see if House rules were violated. Their work is done in private and could include testimony from the convicted member.

If violations are found, a separate eight-member bipartisan panel would hold public hearings to determine whether to recommend expulsion, censure, reprimand, fines or committee removal.

Expulsion from Congress is the most severe punishment and would require the approval of two-thirds of the 435-member House.

Separate from the committee process, a member of Congress could at any time introduce a resolution calling for immediate disciplinary action, such as expulsion. Such a request must debated and either voted on or sent to the ethics committee within two days.

Although unlikely, this request could be made even if a trial ends with an acquittal or split jury.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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