From The Smoking Gun
July 20, 2001 9:00 AM   Subscribe

From The Smoking Gun comes a couple of fabulously funny court orders courtesy of the Honorable Samuel B. Kent of Texas. First, we have a order denying a motion to transfer (the good stuff starts on page 2, second paragraph). My favorite line: Defendant will again be pleased to know that regular limousine service is available from Hobby Airport, even to the steps of the humble courthouse, which has got lights, indoor plummin', 'lectric doors, and all sorts of new stuff, almost like them big courthouses back East. The second one is an equally funny Order or Transfer for the Republic of Bolivia vs. Phillip Morris.
posted by internal (17 comments total)
Rarely have footnotes caused me such mirth.
posted by davehat at 9:15 AM on July 20, 2001

I love when a government mocks its citizens just because they can. Don't mess with Texas.
posted by jpoulos at 9:17 AM on July 20, 2001

I wish we could get that judge to move up here. The Allegheny County courts could use someone who actually thinks about what they write and doesn't just phone it in.

Or mebbe I should contemplate Galveston. I always liked those beaches. . .
posted by Dreama at 9:24 AM on July 20, 2001

I wish I could have got that judge to annotate my dissertation. I always struggled with them, adding overly wordy and rather pointless comments. This guy's use of hyperbole is masterful to say the least.
posted by davehat at 9:37 AM on July 20, 2001


I used to live in Bolivia, and I'm leaving for Galveston tomorrow. Synchronicity!
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2001

The best part is thinking about those $500/hr corporate-retained lawyers sweating in their Armani when they read those documents, knowing that they've already pissed off the judge... :)
... this humble Court by the sea is certainly flattered by what must be the worldwide renown of rural Texas courts for dispensing justice with unparalleled fairness and alacrity, aparently in common discussion even on the mountain peaks of Bolivia!

That's just classic!
posted by hincandenza at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2001

Judge Kent is pretty amusing. Here's one of my favorite of his orders.


Civil Action No. H-88-1400, H-89-3283


1992 U.S. Dist.

April 16, 1992, Decided
April 16, 1992, Entered

OPINION: Judge Samuel Kent


Defendant Picker International, Inc.'s Amended and Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Alternative Amended Motion for New Trial has been heard by this Court. The Court has considered that Motion along with Picker's original Motion. The Motion is Denied.

Moreover, the parties were previously advised to seek no further relief from this Court, and Defendant has inexplicably ignored that instruction. If Picker files another pleading in this Court on this issue, the Court will treat the filing as an act of contempt. The case is over. The Defendant is beating it to death. Enough is enough. Go away!

Signed this 16th day of April, 1992.

Samuel B. Kent, U.S. District Judge Presiding
posted by CRS at 9:53 AM on July 20, 2001

Judge Kent almost reclaims the phrase "Texas justice system" from oxymoronism. (I grew up in TX. I can say that.)

Here are some other things he's done:

Made a wetland defacer put up an apologetic billboard; (this is a google cached copy from a site that thought the punishment was, uh, harsh);

Quashed a suit brought in his court against Philip Morris by -- would you believe it?!? -- Bolivia. His explanation for why he was denying the suit was utterly hilarious; and

Ruled against school prayer at high school football games (a ruling that was later overturned on appeal). Scroll down to "Galveston Gestapo" on
this page

He's an amazing, brave judge. If you think ruling against friday night invocations is brave -- the defendant against whom the judge rails in that first Smoking Gun doc is none other than Dow Chemical. They own that part of Texas. That he would deny their motion and ridicule them is nothing short of heroic.
posted by mudbug at 10:07 AM on July 20, 2001

Does no one find anything wrong with this?
posted by jpoulos at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2001

me, me, me.

If I were to find myself in a courtroom for any reason at all, I'd really hope to end up with a judge who's concentrating on the merits of the case at hand, rather than listening to the proceedings only insofar as to find opportunities to make a wisecrack and get a few yuks.

It makes me nervous that some of you all seem to know who this guy is. Just what the legal system needs, a rockstar showboat judge with a cult following of dedicated fans of case-law-as-Dave-Barry.

This would be really funny instead of scary if it were satire, instead of reality.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:49 PM on July 20, 2001

Sapphireblue and jpoulos, this judge IS considering and deciding the merits of the case. I'm a law student, and I can't tell you how refreshing it is to read decisions like these. The truth is, most judges who seem to be writing in a dignified and "professional" manner care little about the merits and see career advancement as their only goal. This guy wants the law to be RIGHT and RATIONAL and have a modicum of common sense. We need more like him.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:22 PM on July 20, 2001

This guy isn't getting yucks in during court proceedings, anyway. Any judge who cracked wise repeatedly during hearings and trials would be up for review tout de suite, even down in Brazoria County, TX. These are written rulings, which are usually so cut, dried and stale as to provoke copious eyeball hemorrhage. That he makes his rulings on relevant points of law and with a straightforward, concise, human nature to his comments is, indeed, a refreshing change. Would that more jurists started writing like the fine minds that they are instead of legal automatons! The legal profession would be a lot more enjoyable.
posted by Dreama at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2001

I've yet to hear a bad thing about Judge Kent from anyone with any sense of justice. While he makes amusing comments, when neccessary, he is very serious. The humor comes in only after he's made (and usually explained) a rational decision.

I'd link to some news stories about him, but the Galveston Daily News' website search function is down, and the Houston Chronicle (in addition to being a pretty sad excuse for a newspaper) wants me to pay them for the privelege of using theirs.

One of my favorite stories involving Kent is this one, about some area police who were trying to end crime by blocking the roads at night.
posted by fidelity at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2001

The legal profession would be a lot more enjoyable.

Oh, right, I forgot that part of the Constitution that calls for the law to be FUN! I'm very sorry that the attorneys among us are stuck in a very dry profession, but that's hardly an excuse to mock the participants in a legal case. If you don't like how they're behaving, charge them with contempt. You lawyers, of all people, should appreciate how important it is to respect the Law and the procedures that surround it. This guy is making a joke out of his written rulings. That's not cool.
posted by jpoulos at 2:01 PM on July 20, 2001

what's wrong with making it fun? The Thai call it "sanuk"......
posted by bunnyfire at 4:48 PM on July 20, 2001

Scroll down to "Galveston Gestapo" on this page

Hey, I'm all for fighting the thought police, but I'm even more in favor of supporting the "Font size so large that you need to step 10 feet back from your computer to read it" police...

Geez... Someone's been developing websites in Opera with the Zoom level set on 10%
posted by fooljay at 5:14 PM on July 20, 2001

Come on, jpoulous, lighten up a little bit. If you had to sit at your desk and read those damn holdings and orders all day long, you'd enjoy a little relief from the seriousness every now and then.

Judge Kent is a pretty good judge from what I've heard from friends who have gone before him. What harm is there in poking a little fun at people making claims the Judge doesn't think are valid? It's not like he's making fun of death row inmates or anything.

And he's not the only judge who has fun with some of his writings. I remember reading one holding in law school that was written in the style of Dr. Seuss. I wish I could remember which court that was. It was absolutely hilarious.
posted by CRS at 8:27 PM on July 20, 2001

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