The two leading members of the House Judiciary Committee are hinting at possible congressional action against a former federal judge in Texas who appears to be laying the groundwork for early, full retirement benefits after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.
Samuel Kent, 59, resigned from the bench and entered a guilty plea Monday. He had been scheduled to go on trial on charges that he sexually abused two court employees.
The Houston Chronicle reported that, following his plea, Kent described recent treatments for diabetes and psychiatric and psychological problems that could allow him a full pension. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) called Tuesday for the House to try to prevent that by impeaching Kent.
Late today, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and the committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), released a statement:
“We are concerned about reports that Judge Samuel Kent may be attempting to retain his pension,” they said. “Judge Kent has pled guilty to serious crimes and the idea that he would receive taxpayer money in retirement is something the Committee may well need to review in conjunction with our authority under the Constitution in the areas of judicial misconduct.”
Under the Constitution, the House has the sole power of impeachment of federal officials, though impeachment of a judge is rare. A House task force is currently investigating U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous of the Eastern District of Louisiana, with the threat of impeachment.