pageok
pageok
pageok
Justice Department Broadens Investigation of Federal District Judge Samuel B. Kent:

Texas federal district Judge Samuel B. Kent is the object of an extensive criminal investigation by the Justice Department, which has now been expanded to include additional allegations of misconduct:

A Justice Department investigation into the sexual conduct of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent has expanded to include allegations that he accepted but failed to report gifts and also sold his home in a deal arranged by a lawyer with dozens of cases in his court, Kent's own attorney and other lawyers have confirmed.

The ongoing investigation was launched last year after Kent's former case manager complained that the judge sexually molested her. Since then, several prominent attorneys have been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors to appear before a Houston grand jury involving other allegations of judicial misconduct....

Regular VC readers may recall that Kent was reprimanded and suspended by the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council last year for sexual harrasssment (see here for a series of posts on this issue), and has also been accused of other ethical violations over the years. In December, the Justice Department began a criminal investigation into the various accusations against Kent. The Fifth Circuit and the House Judiciary Committee (which has the power to initiate impeachment proceedings against Kent) are apparently waiting for the results of the DOJ investigation before deciding on whether further sanctions against him are warranted.

What is astounding about the Kent case is the sheer number and variety of allegations of criminal wrongdoing and unethical behavior against him - including sexual assault, favoritism towards particular lawyers, acceptance of improper gifts, and bias against certain litigants. He also has the dubious distinction of having been disciplined by both the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council and the Chief Judge of his district (who reassigned 85 cases from Kent to other judges because of apparent favoritism towards a lawyer involved in the cases who is a close friend of Kent's). That doesn't prove that all the allegations against Kent are true. But it certainly suggests the need to continue the investigation and to give serious consideration to the possibility of impeachment.

Dave N (mail):
If the allegations are true, Judge Kent brings disrepute on the federal judiciary as a whole. As a consequences, like Judges Nixon, Hastings, and Claiborne before him, he should be impeached and removed.
7.23.2008 3:11am
Paul Gowder ('in use in registered account?' when?) (mail) (www):
Perhaps a little hasty? At least we ought to wait for the investigation to be completed before calling for impeachment.

(Also, among the various things in his history, the reassignment seems less unusual and serious than previous posts suggested -- at least that's my impression after reading the order. I've gotten at least one case reassigned on remand with similar language and without any ethical aspersions being cast on the judge.)
7.23.2008 3:26am
Ilya Somin:
Perhaps a little hasty? At least we ought to wait for the investigation to be completed before calling for impeachment.

I didn't "call for impeachment," but merely for serious consideration of pursuing that option.

Also, among the various things in his history, the reassignment seems less unusual and serious than previous posts suggested -- at least that's my impression after reading the order. I've gotten at least one case reassigned on remand with similar language and without any ethical aspersions being cast on the judge.

I don't know why your case was reassigned. In Kent's situation, however, it wasn't just one but eighty-five cases, and they were reassigned because of apparent favoritism towards a lawyer involved in all of them. that's a pretty serious violation of judicial ethics, if substantiated.
7.23.2008 4:22am
Houston Lawyer:
If he is indicted, he can be thrown in jail awaiting trial like any other suspect, until he makes bail. I believe all of his pending cases could then be reassigned. If he is convicted, he goes to jail like anyone else.
7.23.2008 10:49am
Mr. X (www):
What is astounding about the Kent case is the sheer number and variety of allegations of criminal wrongdoing and unethical behavior against him - including sexual assault, favoritism towards particular lawyers, acceptance of improper gifts, and bias against certain litigants.


This is not so astounding if you've been reading his opinions over the years. He comes across as a judge who does things "his way," regardless of what the rules are.
7.23.2008 12:08pm
L:
With the federal investigation going on, is he still sitting on the bench in Houston, hearing cases and making rulings? Has anyone had to appear before him since his reassignment to Houston?
7.23.2008 5:18pm