Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Federal Judges Are Appointed For Life.

WASHINGTON –U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent sexually assaulted two of his female employees over a period of several years. Members of Congress are moving quickly to force him out of office so they can avoid paying his annual salary while he serves time in prison.

A task force formed by the House Judiciary Committee scheduled a meeting for 9 June 2009 to begin considering what articles of impeachment — essentially charges — they want to recommend against Judge Kent.

Judge Kent, the first sitting judge to face sex crime charges, is headed to federal prison in a week to serve a 33-month sentence for lying to prosecutors about sexually abusing two female employees. Both women told their stories to the task force last week, saying they were cornered and forced to engage in sexual acts against their will.

Judge Kent pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges last month. As part of the plea deal, he admitted he tried to force Cathy McBroom, his former case manager, into unwanted sex acts in 2003 and 2007, and did the same with Donna Wilkerson, his secretary, from 2004 through at least 2005.

Ms McBroom's attorney and her family have used her name in public discussing the case. Ms Wilkerson knew her lawyer gave her name to reporters during Judge Kent's trial.

Judge Kent had hoped to retire on disability to continue collecting his $174,000 annual salary and benefits. But that request was rejected by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He told President Barack Obama in a letter that he would resign in June 2010.

Members of the House have balked at that offer, rejecting the notion that Judge Kent would be paid his federal salary for a year while he is behind bars.

Federal judges are appointed for life. Impeachment is the only way to remove them. In a letter to the task force, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Kent said if he is forced out, he would be penniless.

Should the task force recommend Judge Kent's impeachment to the full Judiciary Committee, it could meet and vote to send the charges to the House. The House then would vote whether to impeach Kent, which would trigger a trial in the Senate.

Judge Kent's attorney is Dick DeGuerin.

The House on Friday 19 June impeached Federal Judge Samuel Kent who is imprisoned for lying about sexual assaults of two women, in the first such vote since impeaching former President Bill Clinton a decade ago. The impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Texas sets up a trial in the Senate. Kent is the first federal judge impeached in 20 years.

The House approved four articles of impeachment against Kent accusing him of sexually assaulting two female employees and lying to judicial investigators and Justice Department officials. All four articles passed unanimously.

"The conduct at issue here is both shocking and shameful," Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at the start of the debate.

Kent, 59, entered a federal prison in Massachusetts on Monday to serve a 33-month sentence. He pleaded guilty last month to lying to judicial investigators about sexual assaults of two female employees.

Kent is refusing to resign until next year so he can continue to draw his $174,000 a year salary. If he is convicted of the impeachment charges in the Senate, he will be forced off the bench.

When contacted for comment, Kent's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, cited an earlier statement in which he said Kent's troubles might be enough for impeachment in the House but would not produce conviction in the Senate.

Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said he was not unsympathetic to Kent, who has said he has suffered depression since his first wife's death and had problems with alcohol abuse. But Smith said Kent does not have the right to continue as a federal judge and collect his salary.

"It is now time for justice: justice for the American people who have been exploited by a judge who violated his oath of office," Smith said.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Florida, sat in the chamber early in the debate. Hastings was acquitted of bribery charges as a federal judge, but later impeached by the House in 1988. The Senate convicted him on similar impeachment charges.

The Senate found Clinton not guilty on his impeachment charges.

As part of his plea bargain, Kent admitted that he tried to force Cathy McBroom, his former case manager, into unwanted sex acts in 2003 and 2007, and did the same with Donna Wilkerson, his secretary, from 2004 through at least 2005.

He must participate alcohol-abuse program while in prison. He also was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $6,550 in restitution to the secretary and case manager whose complaints resulted in the first sex abuse case ever against a sitting federal judge.

Kent was nominated to the bench by President George H.W. Bush and has served since 1990.
26 June 2009. An imprisoned federal judge facing an impeachment trial in the Senate in a sexual-misconduct case says he will resign from the bench effective June 30.
U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent produced the resignation letter when he was served with a subpoena for his trial, Terrance Gainer, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, said yesterday. Kent's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, could not be reached for comment.

Kent, 60, last week began serving a 33-month sentence in a Massachusetts federal prison for lying to judicial investigators about sexually assaulting two women who worked for him. He was impeached by the House last Friday, and the Senate began work to bring him to trial.

Kent had previously said he would resign in June 2010. But several in Congress, angry that Kent would draw his $174,000 salary plus benefits while in prison, pushed for his impeachment.

Thurgood Marshall did more to improve the life of the damned, the dispossessed, and the downtroddened tha any other attorney in the 20th century. He fought for the underdog in American society as an attorney and as a justice of the U. S. Supreme Court. As chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund for over 25 years, he fought Jim Crow segregation in the snake pits and hell holes of the solid South. He won 29 of 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court; and, he should have won all of them. In a perfect and just world, he would have. His record of successful cases before the high court stands today unparalleled in American judicial history. President Lyndon baines Johnson appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1967 where he served for 34 years. Once he was asked by a newspaper reporter when did he plan to retire. Justice Marshal's reply was "I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it; I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband ".
(Thurgood Marshall, Justice For All, R. Goldman and D. Gallen, 1992; p. 159)

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