House OKs Impeachment of Texas Judge; Only 18 Federal Officials Tried in More Than 200 Years

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 20, 2009 | Go to article overview

House OKs Impeachment of Texas Judge; Only 18 Federal Officials Tried in More Than 200 Years


Byline: S.A. Miller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In a unanimous vote, the House of Representatives decided Friday to impeach disgraced U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent, a dubious distinction the imprisoned Texas jurist shares with just 13 other federal judges in American history.

Kent, who is serving a 33-month sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and admitting to sexual assaults on two female court employees, now faces a Senate trial to remove him from office.

The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of each of four articles of impeachment. No members spoke in support of Kent, and no one voted against the four articles of impeachment.

The rare impeachment proceeding - the House has impeached just 18 federal officials in more than 200 years, including two presidents, a senator and a Cabinet officer - is the only way to forcibly end Kent's lifetime appointment to the bench and revoke the $174,000 annual salary he continues to pocket, even while incarcerated.

The 60-year-old judge wrote in a letter to President Obama that he will resign June 1, 2010. In the meantime, he still would collect about $375 a day in salary.

The judge has blamed his misconduct on personal tragedies such as the death of his first wife, alcoholism and possible mental illness.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said the judge's refusal to resign immediately was a continued abuse of power and exploitation of American taxpayers.

Every day that Judge Kent remains on the bench is one day too long, he said.

A federal official had not been impeached since President Clinton in 1998.

Mr. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate on the perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges that stemmed from his testimony about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The House last impeached a federal judge 20 years ago when Walter Nixon was ultimately removed as chief judge for the Southern District of Mississippi. …

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