Will he stay or will he go? For the longest time, Judge Samuel Kent (S.D. Tex.), the federal judge who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with his molestation of two female court employees, has been playing games about his departure from the bench. But now he has finally raised the white flag, resigning effective on Tuesday, June 30.
To recap: Judge Kent initially said he was retiring on “disability” — which would have allowed him to keep receiving his $174,000 judicial salary for the rest of his life. After that didn’t go over well, he announced he was resigning — but with an effective date of June 1, 2010. As Professor Jonathan Turley and others observed, it was a cynical move on Judge Kent’s part: he was effectively betting that it would take a long time to impeach him, during which time he would continue to draw his six-figure salary — and perhaps the knowledge that he’d be leaving the bench anyway would cause Congress to shelve impeachment proceedings.
But things didn’t quite turn out the way Judge Kent had hoped. Read more, after the jump.
Judge Kent was speedily impeached by the House of Representatives, which took just 30 minutes to approve multiple articles of impeachment against him (by votes of 389-0, 385-0, 381-0, and 372-0). The Senate moved promptly to get his impeachment trial up and running.
Seeing the writing on the (prison) wall, the incarcerated jurist decided to resign — this time in a matter of days, not months. From the Houston Chronicle (via Blogonaut):
U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent resigned via an unusual no-frills letter that he hand-delivered in prison to two Senate officials who had come to serve a summons on him as part of ongoing impeachment proceedings in U.S. Congress.
The resignation of Kent, a convicted felon who had continued to collect his $174,000-a-year salary in prison, was announced to the surprised participants at the first meeting of the Senate’s impeachment trial committee Thursday afternoon in Washington. The committee is chaired by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who announced Kent had handed in a resignation, effective Tuesday, on plain paper to the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms during a prison visit.
Just like Judge Elizabeth Halverson, another member of our Judge of the Day Hall of Fame, Judge Kent will be missed.
Good luck in prison, Your Honor.
Judge Kent resigns amid impeachment proceedings [Houston Chronicle]
Fondler Update: Judge Kent Resigns on Eve of Impeachment Trial [Blogonaut]
Kent Resigns, Spares Himself Senate Trial [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Samuel B. Kent