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House Impeaches Imprisoned Federal Judge

By Ben Pershing
The House today overwhelmingly approved four articles of impeachment against a U.S. district court judge, seeking to remove from the bench a man who is already serving a federal prison sentence. He now faces trial by the Senate.

Samuel B. Kent, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas since 1990, was indicted last year on multiple counts of sexual abuse and other charges stemming from his behavior toward female employees. In February, Kent pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice, admitting that he had lied to a judicial committee investigating the allegations against him, and that he had nonconsensual sexual contact with employees. Kent was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, a term he began serving earlier this week.

Kent submitted his resignation from the bench two weeks ago but made the effective date June 2010, a tactic that would enable him to continue drawing his annual salary of $174,000 until then. Kent's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said there was a good reason why his client post-dated his resignation.

"I figure that it will take at least that long for Congress and the Senate to go through all of the motions for impeachment," DeGuerin told Texas Lawyer. "And he would be entitled to continue the health benefits that he has during that time. They can either have their spectacle or accept his resignation as tendered and go on to more important business that Congress has."

But that argument did not sway the House Judiciary Committee, which reported out the four articles of impeachment against Kent last week, alleging that he sexually assaulted two women, and lied to both the FBI and a judicial committee investigating the incidents.

"He has already pleaded guilty," Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Texas) said of Kent, "and the testimony we've heard about his disgusting abuse of power against his female staffers confirms that he should no longer receive the privileges of serving on the bench."

The House votes today were nearly unanimous; no member voted against any of the four impeachment articles, though Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) did vote "present" on the fourth article, which accuses Kent of lying to the FBI. "He thought the fourth one was borderline -- the weakest of the four by far," explained a Watt aide, adding that his boss also voted "present" on the fourth article when the Judiciary Committee considered the charges.

According to Senate records, Kent is the 18th federal official and the 14th judge -- the first in 20 years -- impeached by the House. Of those 18, 14 have been tried by the Senate, seven were acquitted and seven were convicted.

One of the lawmakers who voted to impeach Kent was Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), a former judge who was himself impeached in 1988 on charges of bribery and perjury and removed from the federal bench by the Senate. He was elected to Congress four years later.

Now it's the Senate's turn to deal with Kent. The chamber will appoint a special committee to investigate the charges and do pre-trial work before the full Senate has a trial. It is not yet clear how quickly that will occur.

"We're preparing to receive the articles of impeachment from the House and hope to proceed to a trial in as timely a manner as possible," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

By Ben Pershing  |  June 19, 2009; 3:53 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules , House  
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Next: Ensign Accuses Mistress's Husband Seeking Payment


Now if they'd just tackle some of the important issues facing America. The war crimes, the espionage, the treason. Or maybe they could address the 20 million illegals that have invaded and occupied the US while the good members of congress were "protecting our national security".

Posted by: bluetalon | June 19, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

How did former corrupt judge Alcee Hastings vote?

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | June 19, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey,not so fast,I know Senators Ensign and Vitter wanted a chance to act as Character Witness's for the Judge,before this affair gets to the Senate.
Speaking of Judgements,is this a little harsh in light of the fact that Senator Ensign can play with his Staff Members outside of the Holy,Holy Bands of DOMA,Christian Approved Marriage,with paid employees using Congressional Payroll and Republican Party Funding,and the U.S. House saw fit to dismiss this poor Judge?
Why didn't they give him a pass? I think Evil Rum or too many Pain Killer Pills are at the root of his problem,no bad judgement.
Please interview Sarah Palin,or the Supreme Leader of the GOP,Rush, on these issues,so True Americans know how to think about these Public affairs of the Heart.

Posted by: jeromejmarkiewicz | June 19, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

How absolutely absurd for Kent to think that he could continue to draw his $174k salary after being convicted and sent to prison. The only question I have here is, if Bill Clinton could do it and get away with it, why shouldn't Kent? Lying to Congress about the facts is a crime, no matter who you are. Does anyone else see a double standard here?

Posted by: finnette | June 19, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

This should actually be as public as possible. All too many women feel that neither they nor children in this country are fully valued in the courts. Too often rapists are simply slapped on the wrists and women are told (in effect) to "get over it".

For a judge to be guilty of lying to those who were investigating his multiple charges of sexual abuse of his own employees is a gross abuse of his office and morally repugnant! We no longer have the stocks, nor pillory but public impeachment is a suitable substitute AND an appropriate one!

Posted by: OregonStorm | June 19, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I guess it takes federal imprisonment before CONgress votes to impeach a judge!

Posted by: KYJurisDoctor | June 19, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Too bad they didn't put Bush, Cheney, and all the other neoconservaturds in the dock. Or is insanity the standard defense of the right? I must be crazy, I'm a conservaturd!

Posted by: Garak | June 19, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Tupac_Goldstein: Alcee Hastings voted yes on all four Articles of Impeachment against Judge Kent today.

Posted by: eparses | June 19, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Click on the link for Samuel B. Kent and it reveals that he was selected by Bush the Elder in 1990.

Although the url is provided in this news story why is it not mentioned up front that Kent is a Republican?

Posted by: dldbug | June 19, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

It is apparent that there are federal, state, county, and municipal judicial judges at all levels, including all of the want-to-be a real judicial judge who are merely administrative judges in several federal agencies, i.e. MSPB, EEOC, U.S. Tax Court etc. The problem is the tremendous power these judges have that soon they end-up believing that nothing can touch them and that they are above the law. Of course if you happen to be another J. Edward Hoover. The late FBI Director who apparently knew every little discretion any U.S. President, U.S. Senator, U.S. House of Representative, and every U.S. Attorney General had, its would be almost impossible to get away. As a Christian, I happen to believe that even if you do not get justice while alive, that one day you will have to answer to our Maker in judgement day, and let's hope for your sake is not during our Lord's White Seat Judgement day. As to corruption by a public official, it is so prevalent and enforcement being very selective and not fair, it is time that our top government policy and law makers do something about public corruption....and please stop bringing up the issue of race, and immigration in every news event.

Posted by: doctormiguel | June 21, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Don't you just love how his attorney, Dick DeGuerin openly admits that they are gaming the system??? What a lowlife dirtbag!

Posted by: cosmiccanine | June 22, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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