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Sat, 09.05.1936

Alcee Hastings, Politician born

Alcee Hastings

*Alcee Hastings was born on this date in 1936. He was a Black politician and judge.

Alcee Lamar Hastings was born in Altamonte Springs, Florida, the son of Mildred L. (Merritt) and Julius "J. C." Hastings. Hastings earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology and botany from Fisk University in 1958. He attended Howard University School of Law from 1958 to 1960 and received his Juris Doctor from Florida A&M University College of Law in 1963. While in school, he became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He was admitted to the bar in 1963 and began to practice law.

Hastings decided to run for the United States Senate in 1970 after incumbent Spessard Holland decided to retire. He failed to win the Democratic primary or make the runoff election, finishing fourth out of five candidates, with 13% of the vote. In 1977, Hastings became a judge of the circuit court of Broward County, Florida. On August 28, 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Hastings to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, to a new seat authorized by 92 Stat. 1629. He was confirmed on October 31, 1979, and received his commission on November 2, 1979. His service was terminated on October 20, 1989, due to impeachment and conviction.  In 1981, after a sting operation by the FBI against the attorney and alleged co-conspirator William Borders, Hastings was charged with conspiracy to solicit a $150,000 bribe (equivalent to $421,834 in 2019) in exchange for a lenient sentence for Frank and Thomas Romano on 21 counts of racketeering and the return of their seized assets.

In his 1983 trial, Hastings was acquitted by a jury after Borders refused to testify in court, despite having been convicted in his trial in 1982. Borders went to jail for accepting the first $25,000 payment but were later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office. In 1988, the Democratic-controlled United States House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413–3. He was then convicted on October 20, 1989, and removed from the bench, but the Senate did not preclude him from holding office in the future. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for Florida's 23rd congressional district from 1993 to 2013 and Florida's 20th congressional district from 2013 until his death.

The 20th district includes most of the majority-black precincts in and around Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. A Democrat, Hastings served as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida for 10 years. Although acquitted in a criminal trial, Hastings faced impeachment 3 years later and removal from the bench for conspiring and falsifying evidence which acquitted him while the other defendant was found guilty of soliciting bribes. In January 2019, Hastings became the dean (or longest-serving member) of Florida's congressional delegation and retained this title until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died on April 6, 2021, at the age of 84.

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