Disgraced federal judge could face impeachment

By Chris Rizo | May 12, 2009

Samuel Kent

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-Congressional impeachment proceedings could begin today against disgraced U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Houston, who was sentenced Monday to lying to federal investigators about groping two female employees.

Kent, 59, was being investigated amid allegations he had nonconsensual sexual contact with his secretary and case manager between 2003 and 2007.

Kent, who was a longtime federal judge in Galveston before being transferred to Houston, was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $6,550 in restitution to the two victims.

In a statement, leaders of the House Judiciary Committee said unless Kent resigns he would face impeachment.

"Unless Judge Samuel Kent immediately resigns, we intend to introduce a resolution jointly to commence an inquiry into whether grounds exist to impeach him and remove him from office," said a statement issued by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, the committee's ranking Republican member.

Kent retired after pleading guilty in February to one count of obstruction of justice for lying to a judicial panel. In exchange for his guilty plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop five charges that he sexually assaulted the two women.

Unless he is ousted from the bench, Kent will continue receiving his $174,000 annual salary even though he is not hearing cases because he was appointed to the federal bench for life in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.

Visiting Senior U.S. District Judge Roger of Pensacola, Fla., ordered Kent to surrender to prison June 15 or later, if the U.S. Bureau of Prisons needs additional time to find a prison cell for such an unusual convict.

At his sentencing, Kent apologized for bringing shame to the judicial system.

"I submit myself humbly to you," Kent told the judge. "My sincere apologies to all concerned."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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