In a one-two punch made public today on its web site, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has recommended that U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent be impeached and ordered that he not be given disability status.
Kent had pled guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with an investigation into charges that he sexually harassed court employees. He is scheduled to begin serving a 33-month prison sentence next month. Claiming alcoholism and mental illness, Kent sought disability status so he could continue drawing a salary while in prison.
But Chief Judge Edith Jones, in a letter today to Kent's lawyer Dick DeGuerin, said no, asserting that "a claimant should not profit from his own wrongdoing by engaging in criminal misconduct and then collecting a federal retirement salary for the disability related to the prosecution." Jones did note that until he was indicted, Kent "continued to handle a high volume of cases expeditiously," so did not appear to be disabled or impaired.
On the question of impeachment, the circuit's judicial council formally urged the Judicial Conference to "take expeditious action" toward impeachment proceedings before Congress. The House of Representatives has already begun its investigation of Kent with an eye toward impeachment.