Topic:
IMPEACHMENT; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW;
Location:
IMPEACHMENT;

OLR Research Report


February 2, 2004

 

2004-R-0146

CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY IMPEACHMENT PROVISIONS IN 50 STATES

By: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst

Janet Brierton, Associate Legislative Attorney

George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

Joseph Holstead, Research Analyst

Patricia O'Rourke, Legislative Fellow

Christopher Reinhart, Associate Attorney

You asked for a copy of all 50 state constitutional and statutory impeachment provisions and wanted to know if they state grounds for impeachment.

Copies of state constitutional and statutory impeachment provisions are enclosed.

GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT

Table 1 alphabetically lists the grounds for impeachment that appear in state constitutions. The second column identifies the states that have that particular provision in their constitutions. A state may list more than one ground for impeachment in its constitution. Alabama, for example, has five entries.

Table 1: Grounds for Impeachment

Grounds for Impeachment in State Constitutions

States

Bribery

NH

Corrupt conduct in office

AL, MI, MN, MO, NH, ND, OK, SD, WV, WI

Crime

IN, MO, NM, ND, SD

Crime in official capacity requiring disqualification

TN

Crimes or misdemeanors

MI, MN, WI

Crimes in office, serious

SC

Felony

LA, RI

Gross immorality

WV

High crime or misdemeanor

WV, WY

High crimes and misdemeanors and gross misconduct in office

AR

High crimes and misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office

AZ, CO, UT, WA, WY

Incapacity

RI, IN

Incompetence

AL, MO, OK, WV

Intemperance or habitual drunkenness

AL, MO, ND, OK, SD

Maladministration in office

MA, NH, VT, WV

Malfeasance or gross misconduct in office

LA

Malfeasance or misfeasance in office

RI, SD

Malpractice in office

NH

Misbehavior in office

PA

Misconduct

MO

Misconduct in office

CA, MA

Misconduct in office, serious

SC

Misdemeanor in office

FL, KY, ME, NB, NJ, OH

Misdemeanor or malfeasance in office

IA, NV, NM, ND

Moral turpitude or oppression, offense of

MO

Moral turpitude in office

AL, OK, RI

Neglect of duty

WV

Neglect of duty, willful

AL, MO, OK

Negligence

IN

Offending against the Commonwealth by: malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, other high crime or misdemeanor

VA

Treason, bribery, or any high crime or misdemeanor in office

DE, KS, MS

GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT BY STATE

Table 2 alphabetically lists all 50 states. The second column includes citations for all constitutional impeachment provisions. The third column includes citations for all statutory impeachment provisions.

Table 2 also identifies the 38 states with constitutional provisions establishing grounds for impeachment and briefly states those grounds. The table also shows the 11 states, like Connecticut, that do not establish grounds for impeachment in their constitutions. Further, it shows that only one of these 11 has established such grounds in statute.

Finally, Table 2 identifies the one state, Oregon, that does not have any impeachment provision.

Table 2: Grounds for Impeachment by State

STATE

Grounds for Impeachment

Constitutional Provisions

Statutory Provisions

Alabama

Willful neglect of dutyi; corruption in office; incompetency; intemperance (intoxicating liquors or narcotics); offense of moral turpitude while in officeii

(Ala. Code, Const. Art. VII, 173)

 

Alaska

No grounds listed, but a motion for impeachment must list fully the basis for the proceeding

(Alaska Stat. Const. Art. II, 20)

 

Arizona

High crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. 8 Pt. 2 2)

High crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann., 38-311)

Arkansas

High crimes and misdemeanors and gross misconduct in office

(Ark. Code Ann., Const. Art. 15, 1)

(Ark. Code Ann., 21-12-201 et seq.)

California

Misconduct in officeiii

(Cal. Code, Const. Art. IV, 18(b))

Misconduct in office (Cal. Gov. Code 3020 et seq.)

-Continued-

STATE

Grounds for Impeachment

Constitutional Provisions

Statutory Provisions

Colorado

High crimes or misdemeanors or malfeasance in office

(Colo. Rev. Stat., Const. Art. XIII)

 

Connecticut

No grounds listed

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. IX)

 

Delaware

Treason, bribery, or any high crime or misdemeanor in office

(Del. Code Ann., Const. Art. VI)

 

Florida

Misdemeanor in officeiv v (Fla. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. 3 17)

A public officer who violates the state code of ethics is subject to a range of punishments, including impeachment, suspension, reprimand, salary reduction, and a civil penalty

(Fla. Stat. Ann. 112.317(1)(a))

A public officer who knowingly violates the law on inspecting, examining, and duplicating public records is subject to impeachment and other penalties

(Fla. Stat. Ann. 119.02)

Georgia

No grounds listed

(Ga. Code Ann., Const. Art. 3, 7)

 

Hawaii

“For causes that may be provided by law”

(Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. III 19)

 

-Continued-

STATE

Grounds for Impeachment

Constitutional Provisions

Statutory Provisions

Idaho

No grounds listed

(Idaho Code, Const. Art. V 3 & 4)

(Idaho Code 19-4013 to 19-4016)

Illinois

Legislative investigations conducted to determine cause for impeachment

(Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. IV 14)vi

 

Indiana

Crime, incapacity, or negligence

(Ind. Code Ann., Const. Art. 6, 7 & 8)

Misdemeanor in office

(Ind. Code Ann., 5-8-1-1 et seq.)

Iowa

Misdemeanor or malfeasance in office

(Iowa Code Ann., Const. Art. III 20 & 20)vii

Misdemeanor or malfeasance in office (Iowa Code Ann., 68.1 et seq.)

Kansas

Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors

(Kan. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. II 27 & 28)

Misdemeanor in office (Kan. Stat. Ann. 37-101 et seq.)

Kentucky

Misdemeanor in office

(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann., Const. 68)

 

Louisiana

Felony, malfeasance or gross misconduct while in such office

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. X 24)viii

 

Maine

Misdemeanor in office

(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. IX 5)ix

 

Maryland

No grounds listed

(Md. Code Ann., Const. Art. II 7; Art. III 26)

 

Massachusetts

Misconduct or maladministration in office

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann., Const. Pt. 2, C.1, 2, Art. VIII Pt. 2, C.1, 3, Art. 6)

 

-Continued

STATE

Grounds for Impeachment

Constitutional Provisions

Statutory Provisions

Michigan

Corrupt conduct in office or crimes or misdemeanors

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann., Const. Art. XI, 1 XI (7))

Corrupt conduct in office or crimes or misdemeanors

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann., 6.1 to 6.16)

Minnesota

Corrupt conduct in office or crimes or misdemeanors

(Minn. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. VIII)

 

Mississippi

Treason, bribery, or any high crime or misdemeanor in office

(Miss. Code Ann., Const. Art. IV 49 to 52)

 

Missouri

Crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense of moral turpitude or oppression in office

(Mo. Rev. Stat., Const. Art. VII, 1 to 3)x

Crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense of moral turpitude or oppression in office

(Mo. Rev. Stat. 106.020 et seq.)

Montana

Legislature must determine causes, manner, and procedure for impeachment

(Mont. Code Ann., Const. Art. V, 13)

(Mont. Code Ann. 5-5-401 et seq.)

Nebraska

Misdemeanor in office. Alleged acts or omissions must be stated in impeachment resolution

(Neb. Rev. Stat., Const. Art III, 17, Art. IV 5)xi

(Neb. Rev. Stat. 24-101 et seq.)

Nevada

Misdemeanor or malfeasance in office

(Nev. Rev. Stat., Const. Art VII, 2)

(Nev. Rev. Stat. 283.140 et seq.)

New Hampshire

Bribery, corruption, malpractice, or maladministration in office

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann., Const. Pt. 2, Art. 17 & Art. 38 et seq.)

 

-Continued

STATE

Grounds for Impeachment

Constitutional Provisions

Statutory Provisions

New Jersey

Misdemeanor while in office

(N.J. Stat. Ann., Art. VII, 3)

(N.J. Stat. Ann. 52:13A-1 et seq.)

New Mexico

Crimes, misdemeanors or malfeasance in office

(N.M. Stat. Ann., Art. 4, 35 & 36)

 

New York

No grounds listed

(N.Y. Const. Art. 5, 4 and Art. 6 24)

(N.Y. Jud. Law 415 et seq.)

North Carolina

No grounds listed

(N.C. Gen. Stat., Art. 3 3, Art. 4 4)

Commission of a felony, a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, malfeasance in office, or willful neglect of duty (N.C. Gen. Stat. 123-1 to 123-13)

North Dakota

Habitual drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office

(N.D. Cent. Code, Art. 11, 8 to 15)

Habitual drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct or malfeasance or misdemeanor

(N.D. Cent. Code 44-09-01 et seq.)

Ohio

Misdemeanor in office

(Ohio Rev. Code Ann., Art. 2 23 and 24)xii

 

Oklahoma

Willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency or any offense involving moral turpitude while in office

(Okla. Stat., Art. 8, 1)

Willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency or any offense involving moral turpitude while in office

(Okla. Stat. Ch. 2 51 et seq.)

Oregon

Public officers may not be impeached. But, incompetency, corruption, malfeasance, or delinquency in office may be tried in the same way as a criminal matter and judgment may be dismissal from office

(Or. Rev. Stat., Art. 7 6).

 

-Continued

STATE

Grounds for Impeachment

Constitutional Provisions

Statutory Provisions

Pennsylvania

Misbehavior in office

(Pa. Cons. Stat., Art. 6 4 et seq.)xiii

 

Rhode Island

Commission of a felony or crime of moral turpitude, misfeasance, or malfeasance in office or found incapacitated

(R.I. Gen. Laws, Art. 11 1 et seq.)

(R.I. Gen. Laws 22-6-2.2)

South Carolina

Serious crimes or serious misconduct in office

(S.C. Code Ann., Const. Art. 15)

 

South Dakota

Drunkenness, crimes, corrupt conduct, or malfeasance or misdemeanor in office

(S.D. Cod. Laws, Const. Art. XVI)xiv

 

Tennessee

Commission of crime in official capacity requiring disqualification

(Tenn. Code Ann., Const. Art. V)

Commission of crime in official capacity requiring disqualification

(Tenn. Code Ann. 8-46-101 to 8-46-205)

Texas

No grounds listed

(Tex. Code Ann. Const. Art. 15, 1 to 7)xv

(Tex. Government Code Ann. 665.001 to 665.028)

Utah

High crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office

(Utah Code Ann., Const. Art. VI, 17 to 21)xvi

High crimes and misdemeanors or malfeasance in office (Utah Code Ann. 1953 77-5-1 to 77-5-12

Vermont

No grounds listed

(Vt. Stat. Ann. Const. Ch. II 57 & 58)

 

Virginia

Offending against the Commonwealth by malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, or other high crime or misdemeanor

(Va. Code Ann. Const. Art IV, 17)

 

-Continued

STATE

Grounds for Impeachment

Constitutional Provisions

Statutory Provisions

Washington

High crimes or misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office

(Wash. Rev. Code Ann., Const. Art V)

(Wash. Rev. Code Ann., 42.04.040)

West Virginia

Maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty, or any high crime or misdemeanor

(W. Va. Code Ann., Const. Art. 7 9)

Maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty, or any high crime or misdemeanor

(W. Va. Code Ann. 6-6-3)

Wisconsin

Corrupt conduct in office, crimes and misdemeanors (Wis. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. 7 1)xvii

(Wis. Stat. Ann., 750.01 & 750.02)

Wyoming

High crimes and misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office

(Wyo. Stat. Ann., Const. Art. 3, 17 & 18)

(Wyo. Stat. Ann., 9-1-214)

i “Willful neglect of duty” means not only intentional omission of an act of duty, but that the incumbent is morally or mentally unfit. (Nelson v. State ex rel. Blackwell, 182 Ala. 449, 62 So. 189 (1913), Lewis v. State ex rel. Evans, 387 So.2d 795 (Ala.1980)).

ii “Moral turpitude” describes “the quality of a crime involving grave infringement of the moral sentiment of the community as distinguished from statutory mala prohibita.” “Moral turpitude is not restricted to statutory offenses, thus it also includes offenses at common law (Lewis v. State ex rel. Evans, 387 So.2d 795 (Ala.1980)).

iii The phrase “misconduct” is broad enough to include any willful malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office (Coffey v. Superior Court of Sacramento County, 147 Cal 525, 82 P 75 (1905)).

iv The determination of what is an impeachable offense is the responsibility of the legislature (Forbes v. Earle, 298 So.2d 1 (1974)).

v “Misdemeanor in office” has a much broader coverage than the common law misdemeanor usually defined and applied in criminal procedure. It includes any act involving moral turpitude and contrary to justice, honesty, principles, or good morals and performed by virtue or authority of office. It is synonymous with misconduct in office and is broad enough to embrace any willful malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, and may not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent (In re Investigation of Circuit Judge of Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Fla., 93 So.2d 601 (1957)).

vi Under Illinois law, impeachment proceedings generally lie for treason, bribery or other high crime or misdemeanor in office, and the grounds must be causes attaching to the qualifications of a state officer or his performance of his duties, showing that he is not a fit and proper person to hold office. 191 F.Supp. 495 (rev. on other grounds); 297 F.2d 450 (cert. denied); 369 U.S. 849; L.Ed.2d.8.

vii An act of misfeasance is positive wrong, and every employee whether employed by a private person or municipal corporation owes duty not to injure another by a negligent act of commission. 225 Iowa 1159; 281 N.W. 837; 281 N.W. 837.

viii “Misdemeanor in office” within Const. 1921, Art. IX 1, that all state and district officers shall be liable to impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors in office means “misconduct in office,” and use of such expressions to describe one of the causes for impeachment and removal does not necessarily exclude the use of the term gross misconduct for the same purpose (197 La. 627, 2 So.2d 45). Gross misconduct means flagrant and extreme (211 So.2d 641). “If disregard of Canons of Ethics or of any other standard of conduct is such as to constitute gross misconduct, then and then only is an elected official subject to removal from office (211 So.2d 641). “Misconduct in office” as ground for removal is synonymous with “misdemeanor in office and is broad enough to embrace any willful malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, but it does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent, but embraces any act involving moral turpitude, which is contrary to justice, honesty, principles, or good morals if performed by virtue or authority of office (2 So.2d 45). Where a public officer orders and purchases material from a partnership, of which he is a member, and thereby secures the expenditure of public funds to himself, he has done that which is prohibited under the Public Fraud Act is subject to removal (82 So.2d 463).

ix the removal of officers by impeachment for official misconduct is not the exclusive method of removal, but is concurrent with other methods provided for the same cause (111 Me. 428)

x In view of Const. 1875, Art. VII, 1, State officers generally may be removed from office for misconduct in performance of their duties. State, on Inf. of McKittrick, V. Williams (1940) 144 S.W.2d 98, 346 Mo. 1003

xi A “misdemeanor in office” may consist of violating the constitution or a statute, willful neglect of duty with corrupt intention, or negligence so gross and disregard of duty so flagrant as to warrant an inference that it is willful and corrupt (State v. Douglas, 217 Neb 199 (1984)).

xii “Misdemeanor” is probably used in this section in the generic sense of “misdeed.” (Editor's Comment)

xiii Conviction for mail fraud, based on ongoing unlawful conduct and correspondence with insurer, was a conviction for an “infamous crime” because it involved falsehood and deception (Braig v. State Employee's Retirement Board, 587 A 2d. 371, appeal denied 607 A2d 258 (1991)).

xiv By enumerating causes, constitution limits removals to cases where causes exist (State ex rel. Holmes v. Shannon (1895) 7 SD 319)

xv (Ferguson v. Maddox, (1924) 114 T. 85, 263 S.W. 888)

xvi “Malfeasance in office” is not so vague or uncertain as to be invalid (State v. Geurts, 11 Utah 2d 345, 359 P. 2d (1961)

xvii An officer may be impeached for acts for which he has been acquitted by a jury (1910 Op.Atty.Gen. 586)

DD/JB/GC/JH/PO/CR:ts