Entries categorized "Judge Samuel Kent"

Congress Should Investigate Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Federal judge (yes, he's still on the payroll) Samuel Kent is going to prison.  He sexually assaulted his law clerks.  Had Judge Edith Jones and the rest of the Fifth Circuit had their way, Judge Kent would still be a federal judge. Here is my post explaining what those judges did to help a colleague

Now that Kent is one his way to prison, some questions remain:

* Why did Edith Jones, known for being tough-on-crime, treat Judge Kent so gingerly?  Is Judge Jones unable to treat people who appear before her equally?  Is she unable to apply the same standards to judges that she would apply to other litigants?

* Edith Jones, who led the disciplinary matter for The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, did not have the power to remove Judge Kent from office.  She - and the rest of the Court - had the power to refer Judge Kent to the House of Representatives for impeachment.  Why didn't she?

* Judge Kent is going to prison for sexual assault.  Read that again, please.  In light of this, why aren't the judges who covered up his misconduct being held accountable for their own misconduct?

* Why did Judge Jones claim that Samuel Kent "sexually harassed" his law clerks, when interviews with the victims clearly established that Kent committed sexual assault.

* Does Edit Jones and the rest of the Fifth Circuit understand the difference between "sexual harassment" and "sexual assault."  If not, why not?  If they do understand the difference, why was Judge Kent's conduct characterized as mere harassment?

Remember Arthur Anderson?  Everyone is fond of saying: "The cover-up was worse than the crime."  Here, Judge Kent sexually assaulted at least two women.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals covered this up.  Here, perhaps the cover-up was not worse that the crime.  The cover-up was still pretty bad.  

As Congress considers what it will do to Judge Kent, it should also consider what it should do about Judge Edith Jones; the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; and judicial misconduct proceedings more generally.

When judges give a free pass to a judge who committs sexual assault, something is rotten.  Does the stinch come from the individual judges?  Or is it the natural stenceh of a system of review that allows judges to decide how to punish other judges?

Samuel Kent Games System Until Very End

Texas federal judge Samuel Kent, whose Edith Jones and other members of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals attempted to cover-up, is soon going to prison on charges relating to sexual assault.  He is still getting a salary. 

Initially, he had applied for permanent disability.  Had he received disabled status, he would have drawn a federal salary for the rest of his life.  Edith Jones, realizing that the nation was now watching her, denied his request. 

Just Kent had refused to resign, lest he lose federal benefits.  The House of Representatives intends on impeaching him.  What does Kent do?

In a very clever move, he has resigned - effective one year from today.  The Texas Lawyer reports:

"Judge Kent will be giving notice to the president [in a letter] as soon as it's sent today that he's resigning his position as a district judge effective June 1, 2010," DeGuerin says.

There's a reason Kent is making his resignation effective one year from now, DeGuerin says.

"I figure that it will take at least that long for Congress and the Senate to go through all of the motions for impeachment. 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," DeGuerin says.

Judge Kent's source of income was his job as federal judge.  One could understand why he'd seek to preserve his income.  Nevertheless, Kent's conviction was based on his misconduct as a judge.  He sexually assaulted his clerks.

If he had any honor, he'd resign - effective immediately.  That he sexually assaulted his clerks showed his lack of honor.  His latest manipulation is thus unsurprising.

Judge Kent's own lawyer admitted to Congress that Judge Kent's goal is to manipulate the system.  Congress should meet the challenge.  Act immediately to impeace Judge Kent.

Judge Samuel Kent's Evolving Defense

Federal judge Samuel B. Kent has been indicted for sexual assault.  After being charged, he issued a statement through his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin.  His lawyer said, "[Judge Kent] did have a relationship with this woman, worked for him for six years never complained about their relationship, which was completely consensual."

It now seems that Judge Kent has backed away from that defense: "DeGuerin said on the sidewalk outside the courthouse that Kent and McBroom did not have a sexual relationship but 'they did have a flirty, close relationship' and there are many witnesses to show that."

Things are not looking good for Judge Kent.  I'm sure some spin doctor might say that "flirty, close relationship" is still technically a "consensual" relationship.  But in sexual assault cases, "consensual" is a term of art.  It generally means that the person consented to sex.

Incidentally, Judge's "flirty" acts, according to the Indictment, include the following: "[Judge Kent] did engage in the intentional touching, both directly and through the clothing, of the groin, breast, inner thigh, and buttocks of [the complaining witness] with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, [and] degrade []."  He also allegedly attempted to put the woman's mouth on his penis.

Is that what counts as flirting these days?

Judge Kent Issues Statement

Judge Samuel Kent's lawyer has issued a statement regarding the criminal charges pending against Judge Kent:

"Judge Kent is innocent of charges. He did have a relationship with this woman, worked for him for six years never complained about their relationship, which was completely consensual. The first time she ever complained was when she was about to be fired. Then she successfully avoided getting fired by making these outrageous claims that are not true. We will contest it and we will go to trial. Important thing to knows is that 5th Circuit Judges heard all of the evidence and they could not arrive at a unanimous or near unanimous verdict that Judge Kent had done anything wrong. This is a classic swearing match between a woman who has motive to lie and a United States District Judge who has faithfully served the public for 18 year as District Judge and 15 years as lawyer."

This statement presents some interesting issues.  First, it sets Judge Kent up for a defamation lawsuit.  Whatever happens at trial, Judge Kent may now be sued for defamation.  Of course, setting one's self up for a civil suit is worth it when facing criminal charges.  Sometimes you gotta go all in.

That said, the statement cites me as incredible.  If Judge Kent were really having a consensual relationship with his secretary, why would have have fired her?  Does that really sound like something someone would do? 

Generally, when a person is dipping his pen in company ink, he keeps even the most incompetent people on staff.  Kids and lovers never get fired, even when they should be.

Here, Judge Kent wants us to believe that he was going to fire his lover.  Yeah, that's believable.

Fifth Circuit Covers Up Serious Judicial Misconduct

Several month ago federal judge Samuel Kent did something really bad.  What did he do?  We didn't know for sure, because the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (which was charged with investigating Judge Kent's judicial misconduct) kept it confidential.  The Fifth Circuit did issue a reprimand - in other words, "Shame on you."

The reprimand was short on details.  The public, according to the Fifth Circuit, did not have a right to know.  All that the reprimand said was that Judge Kent's actions "violated the mandates of the Canons of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges and are deemed prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts and the administration of justice."  The Fifth Circuit covered the rest up.

Even though the Fifth Circuit had the power to refer Judge Kent to Congress for an impeachment investigation, the Fifth Circuit refused to.  Rather, all the Fifth Circuit would do was issue a reprimand.  The rest was kept secret.

Reporters from the Houston Chronicle sensed that there was more to the story.  After all, judges are reluctant to censure other judges.  You must do something really bad to get into trouble.  So the Chronicle investigated. 

Preliminary reports did not paint a happy picture.  Witness interviews indicated that Judge Kent committed something beyond "mere" sexual harassment, but short of rape.

After further investigation, Judge Kent was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.  (Via Volokh).

According to the Indictment, Judge Kent "did engage in the intentional touching, both directly and through the clothing, of the groin, breast, inner thigh, and buttocks of [the complaining witness] with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, [and] degrade []."  He also allegedly attempted to put the woman's mouth on his penis.

Some will say that these are only allegations, just as some said that people like me were engaged in a "serious campaign of distortion" when we demanded that public officials answer publicly for their misconduct.

Yes, Judge Kent is presumed innocent.  However, the Department of Justice does not lightly indict sitting federal judges. The case against Judge Kent must be extremely strong, or else he would never have been indicted. 

While Judge Kent's alleged misconduct is troubling, something else is still more troubling.  Namely, the Fifth Circuit's conduct.

The Fifth Circuit knew of the allegations that formed the basis of the Indictment.  Yet what did the judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (led by "tough on crime" Edith Jones) do? 

They issued a mere reprimand, did not make the details of his conduct public, and did not ask Congress to investigate further.  They were willing to let the case end at the reprimand.

Self-discipline must go.  What Judge Kent is accused of doing borders on rape.  Yet the Fifth Circuit wanted to pass upon the issue with a simple, "It's our little secret."

Not, it's not your little secret.  Judges are public officers, paid by the public, and entrusted with extraordinary power by the public.  When a judge breaks the law, we have a right to know.  We have a right to write our Congresswomen and Senators to let them know about a sitting federal judge who abuses his power.

We cannot exercise our rights as citizens when judges cover-up judicial misconduct.  Congress must reform judicial disciplinary proceedings.  At the very least, allegations of judicial misconduct must be made public.  Judges have made it clear that they do not want to punish other judges.  Fine.  Leave the dirty work to the public and Congress.

Judicial Bully or Humorist?

The Curmudgeonly Clerk blogs about judicial attacks on lawyers, citing infamous language from Judge Kent (S.D. Tex.).  Wrote Judge Kent:

Manifestly, any person with even a correspondence-course level understanding of federal practice and procedure would recognize that Defendant's Motion is patently insipid, ludicrous and utterly and unequivocally without any merit whatsoever.

Fans of Judge Kent will enjoy this excellent - albeit critical - article entitled "Bullying From the Bench."  There the author brings us several Kentian gems, like the one noted below:

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact – complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words – to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by t heir c hild- like efforts that heir utter dearth of legal authorities in their brieing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions. With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor’s edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.

Law professor Steve Lubert suggests that my enjoying Judge Kent may be "[s]chadenfreude," which Lubert says, "runs deep."  I disagree.  As a group, lawyers are the most arrogant subset of society.  How many times have you heard someone say, "This is what we lawyers call a 'brief.'"  And, "This book is written with the layman in mind."  Imagine if your doctor said, "This is what we doctors call an 'aorta.'"  Most lawyers are arrogant and annoying.  [However, most blogger-lawyers are very congenial and interesting.  Quite a divide.] 

Lawyers need to be reminded of their mortality: It is good medicine.  Besides, behind the "gravy-stained paper place mats" were clients.  If these clients were being prejudiced by imcompetent lawyers, they - and perhaps the whole legal world - should know about it.  Maybe Judge Kent is doing what the state bar neglects, namely, censoring lawyers for violating the first duty to clients - competence.  ABA Model R. Prof. Conduct 1.1 (2003) ("A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.")