OCTOBER 02, 2007
A Texas federal judge with a controversial history has been reprimanded by a judicial council after a secret four-month inquiry into his pattern of sexual impropriety and abuse of power.
Although disciplinary actions against federal judges are rare, the Judicial Council of the Fifth U.S. Circuit found ample evidence to admonish Galveston federal Judge Samuel Kent for his latest misconduct of sexually harassing a federal judicial employee.
Kent is accused of harassing and inappropriately touching his 49-year-old case manager in his chambers earlier this year. The incident is apparently part of an ongoing pattern of sexual harassment by the judge against other employees.
In its admonishment order the 19-member judicial council writes that Judge Kent violated the mandates of the Canons of the Code of Conduct for United States judges and deems his actions prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of justice. Kentâ??s punishment is a four-month paid leave of absence with no interruption in his $165,000 annual salary.
The judge, who was appointed to the bench in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, has a checkered past that includes a pattern of abuse of power and inappropriate favoritism in his decisions and in overseeing settlement negotiations. Many current and former court employees say the judge sometimes appeared intoxicated on the job.
Federal judges are lifetime appointments and only Congress can impeach them. Only 13 federal judges have been impeached since 1800 and just three in the last two decades. Among the more recently impeached federal judges is a corrupt Florida congressman (Alcee Hastings) who currently serves as Hillary Clintonâ??s campaign co chair in the state. He was impeached for committing perjury and conspiring to solicit a bribe.
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