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About time.
June 22, 2009 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Samuel Kent is the first judge to be impeached by the House in 20 years.

Last Friday, Judge Samuel B. Kent, formerly of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, was impeached by the US House of Representatives. The proceedings took less than 30 minutes.

Kent plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges relating to an investigation into sexual harrassment claims by court employees. Last year he was indicted on three federal counts of abusive sexual contact and attempted aggravated sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and has reported to the Devens Federal Medical Center in Ayers, MA.

He announced his resignation effective in 2010, allowing him to keep his $174,00 salary in the interim. If convicted, his salary will be immediately cut off. The Senate expects to convene the trial before its August recess.

Reliable scandalmonger Above the Law has extensive coverage.

Previously.
posted by orrnyereg (26 comments total)

 
First federal judge, I should have said. Sorry.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:31 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's been all over the MSM, I guess because of the novelty. But this isn't really big news at all. The guy is in jail. Why is it surprising he'd be impeached?
posted by delmoi at 9:32 AM on June 22, 2009


@delmoi: I don't think it's surprising that he's being impeached, so much as it's surprising why he's being impeached. For weeks, he's been refusing to step down so he can continue to collect his $100k+ salary and full benefits—from behind bars. To wit:
"This is the first time a federal judge has been convicted of a felony, has reported to prison, and has still not resigned from his office. This shows how deep Judge Kent’s audacity truly runs,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the top Republican on a bipartisan task force that recommended Kent’s impeachment.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
posted by littlerobothead at 9:39 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is it surprising he'd be impeached?

I think it's unusual that he refused to step down. Most people in his situation apparently have the good grace to resign before they don the ol' orange jumpsuit. He didn't, although it seems like it's out of a desire to continue receiving pay and benefits as long as possible.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:44 AM on June 22, 2009


I find it interesting that even Alcee Hastings voted for impeachment.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:46 AM on June 22, 2009


Good grace? Audacity? If it's so OMGINCREDIBLE that he still collects from behind bars, just make it automatic.
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This is the first time a federal judge has been convicted of a felony, has reported to prison, and has still not resigned from his office."

Damn, that's downright Blagojevichian.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


What struck me is the fact that the votes were unanimous. Yeah, he was convicted, sentenced and serving time, but I jadedly expected some patron to champion him in some way, but that wasn't the case. From the "impeached" article:
The other three articles of impeachment “for high crimes and misdemeanors” were adopted on votes of 385-0; 381-0; 372-0 and came just six weeks after Kent pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice — and four days after he entered a federal prison medical facility in Massachusetts to begin a 33-month sentence.
An aside: All online newspapers seem to have bizarrely corrosive reader comments sections. The chron.com's are in line with youtube.
posted by boo_radley at 10:07 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


He offered to resign effective June 2010, citing his desire to continue receiving medical benefits and pay, but lawmakers said that wasn’t enough.

Hmm, I wonder why.

"Hey guys, I'll just wait it out in this medical jail, as long as they keep treating my back pains and I can can get paid like I was actually doing work. That way, I won't be sexually harassing anyone and I won't have any conflicts of interest in the court. Real win-win all around, right?"

Damn, that's downright Blagojevichian.

Is this the year of the smug bastard? Let's get whatever dumbass shenanigans out of the way in 2009, and next year we can start again.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:13 AM on June 22, 2009


Is this the year of the smug bastard?

Actually, 2009 is the year of the smug ox. Last year was the year of the smug rat.
posted by blucevalo at 10:16 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh magic blue website, why do you torture me so by continuing the bring up the outrageous things that go on in my hometown?! (And more importantly, Dear Galveston: can you quit with the crazy? Sincerely, Me.)

When I was in law school we read his opinions all the time for laughs. In fact, I'm kind of shocked that some of his opinions weren't linked to in the FPP, since they are really well known and totally hilarious (even to non lawyers).
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2009


Ahem. I missed the Previously. Apologies.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:39 AM on June 22, 2009


I kind of think committing a felony should immediately stop pay for any government employee. That's downright absurd.
posted by graventy at 10:58 AM on June 22, 2009


"This is the first time a federal judge has been convicted of a felony, has reported to prison, and has still not resigned from his office. This shows how deep Judge Kent’s audacity truly runs,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the top Republican on a bipartisan task force that recommended Kent’s impeachment.

Audacity of hope?

This just goes to show how screwed we are in the U.S., if anyone still lives with the delusion that we're a nation of laws. No way we're getting any torture convictions if it takes this level of Congressional action to impeach a convicted felon...

Of course, it isn't about going to war illegally, or about torturing people, or about any of the countless laws that were broken to justify our torture regime...this was about sex...again. I just don't get our priorities in this country.
posted by Chuffy at 11:02 AM on June 22, 2009


Why is it surprising he wouldn't resign? Who turns down free money? Maybe he feels like he got a raw deal and just wants to stick it to 'em.
posted by delmoi at 11:04 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I kind of think committing a felony should immediately stop pay for any government employee.

You'd need to change the Constitution. This is hard-wired.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2009


Chuffy: "This just goes to show how screwed we are in the U.S."

What? As far as I can see, this is procedurally what the law requires for a judicial impeachment. What is your complain about? And please, focus and try not to conflate this with war or torture.
posted by boo_radley at 11:24 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sexual assault, Chuffy, not just sex.
posted by orrnyereg at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2009


An argument against automatically firing any judge convicted of a felony is that it would make the process of subverting the judicial branch easier. All an abusive government would have to do to get rid of a troublesome judge is convict them of a felony. That's not easy but it's a lot easier and faster than having to wait until the judge is in jail or impeached.
posted by rdr at 11:38 AM on June 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why is it surprising he wouldn't resign? Who turns down free money?

Tom DeLay, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Foley, Bob Livingston, Edward Nottingham . . .
posted by brain_drain at 11:49 AM on June 22, 2009


Nit:
Devens Federal Medical Center in Ayers, MA.

Pick:
Ayer, MA
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:49 PM on June 22, 2009


FYI: In case anyone ever asks you for a good example of "chutzpah," you can use this.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:14 PM on June 22, 2009


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the task force, said there would have been “a stain on the Congress” if it had not acted.

California? I thought the Adam Schiff with an interst in the law was from New York.
posted by googly at 1:29 PM on June 22, 2009


This just goes to show how screwed we are in the U.S.

I'm with boo_radley. To me this looks like "the system working like it's supposed to." And rdr has exactly why we don't have automatic removal of judges who are convicted of felonies. There may be good reasons to believe we in the U.S. are screwed, but this is not one of them.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:22 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doesn't he get free medical care whilst in the pokey? If he resigns, he probably gets to keep his pension.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:02 PM on June 22, 2009


This just goes to show how screwed we are in the U.S., if anyone still lives with the delusion that we're a nation of laws. No way we're getting any torture convictions if it takes this level of Congressional action to impeach a convicted felon...

Actually "this level of Congressional action" is what the Constitution requires.
posted by Slap Factory at 8:30 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


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