House Impeaches Judge Kent; Speedy Senate Trial Is Expected
Posted Jun 19, 2009 3:43 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Making legal history, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted today to impeach U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent.
Not a single representative spoke on the imprisoned jurist's behalf, and the vote on the first of four articles of impeachment was 389-0, reports the Houston Chronicle. All four were swiftly approved in roll call votes that took only 30 minutes to complete.
The charges accuse the Texas-based judge of abusing his power by sexually assaulting two female court workers and lying about his conduct to authorities.
It is the first time since 1989 that a federal judge has been impeached. A speedy Senate trial is now expected, and could begin next month.
As detailed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, the 59-year-old Kent pleaded guilty in February to obstruction of justice in a matter related to his admitted nonconsensual sexual conduct concerning the two court workers. He began serving his 33-month sentence on Monday, at a prison medical facility in Ayer, Mass.
In recent written testimony before a House Judiciary Committee task force, Kent had pleaded for leniency, saying that he would be left penniless after many years of judicial service and without the health benefits he and his wife need to treat their medical conditions if he is impeached. The judge had agreed to resign next year, but this resolution apparently was not acceptable to lawmakers.
A Blog of Legal Times account of the impeachment today includes a comment from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the top Republican on a bipartisan task force that recommended Kent’s impeachment.
“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,” Goodlatte said.
ABAJournal.com: "Judge Kent Apologizes to His Family, But Not Claimed Sexual Abuse Victims"
ABAJournal.com: "Nearing Impeachment, Judge Kent Reveals He Will Resign—But Not Now"