Judge Kent resigns, letter has current effective date

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 29, 2009, 7:28am


After being served with a summons to file an answer to the articles of impeachment against him, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent submitted another letter of resignation – and this one had a current effective date.

Kent, who is a convicted felon serving time in a federal correctional facility, personally handed a one-line resignation letter on plain paper to the Senate sergeant-at-arms who had arrived at the prison on June 25 to serve Kent court papers as part of the impeachment proceedings.

The 60-year-old judge held a longtime post as the only judge for the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas before being transferred to Houston. He began a 33-month sentence in mid-June after pleading guilty last year to obstruction of justice and admitted to sexually molesting two women who worked for him at the Galveston courthouse.

Earlier this month, Kent submitted a resignation letter before reporting to the Devens Federal Medical Center in Massachusetts, but that letter had an effective date of June 2010.

Since a federal judge can only be removed from office by resignation or impeachment by U.S. Congress, the strategy gave Kent another year to collect his $174,000 annual judicial salary from prison while impeachment process slowly made its way through the House and Senate.

But Congress called Kent's bluff, and charged ahead with impeachment proceedings at a rapid pace. The House wasted no time to approve four articles of impeachment, and the Senate was now preparing for trial to officially remove Kent from the bench.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who served as one of the House managers for Kent's impeachment, told the Houston Chronicle that he was "pleased to learn that Judge Kent has resubmitted his resignation, this time effective on June 30, 2009."

"Kent's realization that we would not allow him to take advantage of the system proves that the system works and justice has been served," Sensenbrenner said. "I hope this process reminds other judges that they are not above the laws they took an oath to uphold. I hope the women Mr. Kent assaulted will find some closure in this man being behind bars and no longer being able to serve on the bench or collect a taxpayer-funded paycheck."

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