Convicted US federal judge submits resignation effective in one year

Convicted US federal judge submits resignation effective in one year

[JURIST] Convicted US district court judge Samuel Kent [official profile] on Tuesday submitted his letter of resignation to President Barack Obama effective June 2010, after pleading guilty [JURIST report] to obstruction of justice [18 USC § 1512(c)(2) text] charges in connection with the alleged sexual harassment of his secretary and former case manager. The delayed resignation would allow Kent to collect his full current salary of $174,000 and full health benefits until next year, at which point he would not receive any continuing benefits or pension. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) [official website], ranking minority member of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website], told reporters that the committee would move forward [Houston Chronicle report] with impeachment proceedings, scheduled to begin Wednesday [hearing calendar], with the goal of removing Kent from office before his resignation becomes effective. A disciplinary panel from the Fifth Circuit has urged [certification letter, PDF; JURIST report] the committee to impeach Kent promptly.

In February, Kent pleaded guilty to lying to a judicial panel [Fifth Circuit materials] investigating sexual harassment allegations made by his former case manager and legal secretary. He was sentenced [JURIST report] in May to 33 months in prison, and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $6,500 in restitution as part of his plea agreement [text, PDF]. In 2007, the American Bar Association (ABA) [professional association] adopted new policies reforming the Model Code of Judicial Conduct [JURIST report], which for the first time included prohibitions against sexual harassment, although some advocacy groups believe these changes do not go far enough [AP report].