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Impeachment of Hon. Samuel B. Kent

Judge, Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas
Part I   (Part II)
In 2009, the 111th Congress will consider the impeachment of Fifth Circuit Judge Samuel B. Kent, who pled guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with an indictment for unwanted sexual advances against two female employees and was sentenced to federal prison for nearly three years.

Congress, the judicial establishment and the press are once again ready to conduct a public crucifixion of a "rogue" judge for personal behavior unrelated to any judicial activity while serving on the bench.  While the seriousness of Judge Kent's licentious conduct should be acknowledged, the publicity surrounding the impeachment proceedings is designed to convince the public that the judicial system is above reproach, an honored profession, and that only an occasional judge would be caught engaging in an illegal act for which others would similarly be held personally accountable.

Such grandstanding, however, is intended to distract attention away from the dismal record of public service rendered by the U.S. judiciary, whose own statistics reveal that 99.8 percent of the judicial misconduct complaints filed during the 10-year period of 1997-2006 were dismissed with little or no explanation, regardless of merit.  Many of those complaints included allegations that a judge had a conflict of interest, was influenced by a bribe, disregarded the law, or had ignored, misrepresented or altered material evidence to the detriment of the complainant.  The doctrine of judicial immunity allows judges to engage in a wide variety of tactics that can unfairly disadvantage a less-favored party and deprive them of their constitutional right to an impartial tribunal.  Only those who have never dealt with a corrupt court will be fooled by the spectacle of a rare impeachment proceeding.  What the judicial establishment fears most is genuine judicial accountability that is independent of its control and designed to enable citizens to hold judges accountable for unlawful actions while on the bench, not just in their personal affairs.

Sensenbrenner Filing for Impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent
Kent sentenced to 33 months in prison for obstructing justice
For Immediate Release
May 12, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Judiciary Chairman Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) today filed articles of impeachment [PDF] in the U.S. House of Representatives for U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of the Southern District of Texas. Kent was sentenced yesterday to 33 months in federal prison for obstructing justice.

"Given the sentencing of Judge Kent and his unwillingness to resign, the House of Representatives has no alternative but to impeach him," Sensenbrenner said. "His claim to seek 'disability' so that he may retire early, demonstrates that he is not truly remorseful for his crimes and appears to be a blatant attempt to work the system so that he may receive an annual paycheck of $174,000 from taxpayers for life, including while he is behind bars."

Sensenbrenner continued, "Judge Kent collected thousands of dollars in pay after pleading guilty and while awaiting his sentence. He should not be receiving a lifetime judicial salary when he violated the very laws he took an oath to uphold. Judge Kent knew the laws, and he chose to break them anyway. He should not be rewarded for his poor judgment and bad behavior, or insult the people who struggle with real disabilities everyday by being granted disability status."

In February of this year, Kent pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. This followed an investigation, resulting in a plea agreement, where Kent admitted non-consensual sexual conduct with two court employees.

After Kent pleaded guilty, Sensenbrenner asked Edith Hollan Jones, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, to thoroughly examine any request made by Kent in seeking disability. He also publicly stated in February that if Kent did not resign, he would draft a resolution for impeachment after his sentencing.

Sensenbrenner said, "I encourage House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr., (D-Mich.) to promptly consider this resolution. Judge Kent has already pled guilty to high crimes and misdemeanors, and time is of the essence to restore the publicís trust in the judiciary."

Sensenbrenner currently serves as the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. He previously filled impeachment resolutions against former federal judges Alcee Hastings, Walter Nixon and Manuel Real.

From: Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=126069, accessed 05/15/09.  For further information, contact Wendy Riemann (202) 225-5101.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.

Disgraced Judge Sentenced to 3 Years
May 11, 2009

HOUSTON, Texas — A disgraced federal judge was sentenced Monday to nearly three years in prison for lying to investigators about whether he sexually abused his secretary.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent was sentenced to 33 months Monday. He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $6,550 in restitution to the two women whose complaints resulted in the first sex abuse case against a sitting federal judge.

Kent could have received up to 20 years in prison after admitting to obstruction of justice, but prosecutors said they wouldn't seek more than three years under a plea agreement.

"Your wrongful conduct is a huge black X ... a stain on the judicial system itself, a matter of concern in the federal courts," U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said as he imposed the sentence. Vinson is a visiting senior judge called in from Pensacola, Fla.

Kent pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in February as jury selection for his trial was about to begin. He had been charged with obstruction and five sex-crime counts alleging that he groped his secretary and his former case manager. Conviction on the most serious of those charges could have sent him to prison for life.

As part of the plea agreement, Kent admitted the sexual contact was against the two women's will.

His case manager accused him of harassing and sexually abusing her over a four-year period, culminating in March 2007, when she said the judge pulled up her blouse and bra and tried to escalate contact until they were interrupted.

A council of judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals investigated Kent and suspended him in September 2007 for four months with pay but didn't detail the allegations against him.

The judicial panel transferred him from Galveston, where he'd worked since his 1990 appointment, to Houston, 50 miles northwest. After a Justice Department investigation, he was indicted in August.

Additional charges — including the obstruction count to which he ultimately pleaded guilty — were filed against Kent in January. They alleged that Kent tried to force a court secretary into a sexual act between January 2004 and January 2005 and lied about it to investigators.

Kent's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said at the time of the guilty plea the judge was retiring from the bench, then clarified later that Kent intended to retire due to a disability.

Federal judges must be at least 65 before they can retire, and reaching that age allows them to still collect their full salaries for the remainder of their lives.

Kent, who was paid $169,300 a year, is 59. The only way a younger judge could retire and still collect his salary would be to claim a disability, either mental or physical. A federal judge who resigns gets nothing.

Kent and his attorney said when he made his plea that the judge was taking medication for depression and anxiety and was under the care of both a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Copyright 2009, Incisive Media
US Properties, LLC

From: Michael Graczyk, "Disgraced Judge Sentenced to 3 Years," New York Lawyer and The Associated Press, May 11, 2009, http://www.nylj.com/nylawyer/news/09/05/051109l.html, accessed 05/12/09.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.

First Federal Judge Ever Indicted for Sex Crimes Pleads Guilty to Obstruction, Steps Down
February 24, 2009

Federal Judge Samuel B. Kent, indicted in January on six counts of alleged sexual abuse of two court staff members and obstruction of the investigation, pleaded guilty to obstruction and resigned his lifetime post on Monday.

He is the first federal judge ever indicted for alleged sexual crimes. Kent agreed to plead guilty to a single count of obstruction of justice and notified the president he would step down effective immediately, according to a prepared statement issued by his attorney, Richard DeGuerin of DeGuerin & Dickson in Houston.

"Judge Kent believes this compromise settlement is best for all involved, the complainants and the families, Judge Kent and his family and the court and judicial system," reads the statement issued following the change of plea hearing on Monday.

Kent faced trial on three counts of sexual abuse of two female employees, which carried a potential life prison term, two counts of sexual contact and a single count of obstruction of justice. U.S. v. Kent, No. 08-596 (S.D. Texas).

Kent admitted the nonconsensual sexual conduct with two female employees during a court hearing on Monday and entered the guilty plea to a single count of obstruction.

The criminal indictment stands in sharp contrast to the four-month internal investigation by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Council, which issued a three-page public reprimand on Sept. 28, 2007, and included a 120-day suspension.

Cathy McBroom brought the allegations in March 2007. McBroom has alleged that Kent touched her under her clothing twice and made obscene statements to her during the course of six years.

"Cathy said she is very relieved and she will wait until sentencing to have a statement," said her attorney, Rusty Hardin of Hardin & Associates in Houston.

As for civil actions against Kent, Hardin said, "We never really planned that and have not talked about that." We wanted to keep that off the table so as not to undermine her as a witness," he said.

Kent is only the sixth judge in the past 30 years to be charged with a federal crime. The most recent was a bribery indictment and later conviction of U.S. District Judge Robert Collins of the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1993.

Copyright 2009, Incisive Media
US Properties, LLC

From: Pamela A. MacLean, "First Federal Judge Ever Indicted for Sex Crimes Pleads Guilty to Obstruction, Steps Down," New York Lawyer and The National Law Journal, February 24, 2009, http://www.nylj.com/nylawyer/news/09/02/022409e.html, accessed 02/24/09.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.









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