"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the enabler of sexual predators in federal courthouses - the case of Judge Samuel Kent

In 2009,  a federal judge Samuel Kent was convicted on a plea bargain after an indictment of a grand jury, and after that the U.S. Congress impeached him and took him off the bench.

Even after conviction, Judge Kent initially refused to resign and only wanted to retire on disability, drawing his full judicial salary. 

 When that offer of retirement was rejected by the House of Representatives and impeachment proceedings were instituted, with testimony of his two employees, Judge Kent turned in a full resignation which was accepted.  

Once again, Judge Kent was taken off the bench, and pled guilty to obstruction of justice.  He served 2 years in prison. 

Reportedly this is the gist of what happened:  "For years, Cathy McBroom and Donna Wilkerson stayed silent as an often intoxicated U.S. District JudgeSamuel Kent cornered them to inflict unwanted kissing, groping and occasionally furtive sexual touching, they said."

Of course, there is a lot more behind the story.

This blog is not just about what happened to Donna Wilkerson and Cathy McBroom, the two brave women who finally came forward, after years of abuse, to testify against a federal judge who was a raging alcoholic and a sexual predator who was on the hunt in the federal courthouse for nearly two decades, with nobody, including the security officers, brave enough to protect them and stop that criminal.

It is about the culture of enabling such predators through no accountability of judges, through giving them enormous power with practically no checks on that power, that made them kings in their particular area, with a feeling of entitlement to use their employees as sex slaves, and their position as the source of extra money, favors from lawyers and free entertainment, including forced sex with employees.

Judge Kent did not apologize to the two victims of his sex crimes, even at sentencing.  He reportedly apologized to his friends and family, but not to his victims.  That was, after, for years, he used his position of power, his giant height and considerable weight to physically overpower, intimidate and sexually assault his employees.

During his judgeship, Judge Kent was 6'4" and 260 pounds, enough to overpower any average-size female employee.

Judge Kent was the only Article III (Congress-appointed) judge in a federal courthouse in Galverston, Texas.

One of the employees he sexually harassed for years, has been picked out of an over a hundred applicants for the job as a the judge's case/docket manager.

This is one of many cases of judges-as-sexual-predators that I've read.

They are all the same - about dishonest men with a lot of power who impose their sexual attentions upon their helpless employees and who blame them and call them prostitutes (a ruder word, actually) when they are exposed.

It is the same situation where the victim feels helpless, when everybody around her "look the other way" or outright advise her not to do anything and try to "stay away" or transfer and shut up - but never confront the judge who can make the victim's life miserable, spread rumors against her and make her unemployable - as Judge Kent tried to do to his case manager, Judge Kent even had his "loyal employees" testify against the victim saying that she was flirting with the judge herself.

There also is the same situation where attorneys are afraid to take on a case representing a victim against a judge - fearing retaliation from the judge and ruination of their practice, career and livelihood.

There also is the routine discipline-as-slap-on-the-wrist - as the 5th Circuit did with Judge Kent (the 5th Circuit did it again in 2015 with another sexual predator, Judge Walter Smith, giving him a year-long lighter caseload as a reward of his drunkenness on the job, stalking and sexual harassment of employees for over 18 years).  The attorney who finally agreed to represent the victim of Judge Kent - pro bono - told her reportedly that the system of judicial discipline is built in order to protect the judge, and nothing she testifies about will result in anything but superficial discipline, and the prediction was true.

Then there is the fear where witnesses refused to talk to the investigator the victim's attorney hired to re-interview all people interviewed by the 5th Circuit.

Then, the victim was made a pariah in courthouses when people who knew her walked past her with eyes glued to the floor.

The interesting point about Judge Kent is that the abuse of power through sexual harassment of employees went hand-in-hand with abuse of power as a judge, through favoritism of "certain lawyers" in decisions and settlement negotiations.   There were no investigation as to that favoritism though because it was "related to litigation", and thus outside of the scope of discipline under the Judicial Disability Act.

Instead, it had to be handled through criminal proceedings when federal investigators (a great credit goes to them in this story) allowed the case to go to the grand jury.

"Besides presenting Cathy’s claims about his purported abuse, they presented the jurors with allegations that Kent had accepted but failed to report gifts from lawyers and that he had sold his Galveston home for a tidy profit in a deal arranged by a lawyer who had dozens of cases in his court."

Yet, the judge was not convicted of corruption.  Had he been convicted of corruption - same as in the "Kids for Cash" scandal in Pennsylvania, he would have had to serve 20 or more years in prison.  So he was saved by the system.  Where state corrupt judges went to prison for nearly 30 years, a federal judge was home with his family within 2 years.

The 5th Circuit apparently refused to address Judge Kent's corruption and fixing cases (favoritism to lawyers, likely to lawyers who gave him unreported gifts), thus enabling it to continue for years.

Judge Kent was indicted, and at his arraignment he, reportedlyAt his arraignment, in his usual booming voice, he announced that he was “absolutely, unequivocally not guilty” and declared that he would bring a “horde of witnesses” to fight such “flagrant, scurrilous” charges".

That is not what he finally told the U.S. House - after he pled guilty in criminal court with admission of non-consensual sexual conduct with an employee:

Perhaps I was attempting to meet an unfilled need for affection.

The whole sordid story reads like an 18th century novel where a lord made advances to a maid and cast her out in the street accusing her of seducing him once the results of his "affections" started to show.

The amended indictment against Judge Kent in 2009 "accused him of forcing this employee to repeatedly “engage in a sexual act”—including oral sex—and of using his hands to “penetrate or attempt to penetrate” her

And, the lawyer who was involved in the scheme-of-favoritism with the judge appeared to be a very good witness for the feds;  based on his testimony the second victim of sexual misconduct was subpoenaed - a point for future investigators of similar crimes, which, I am sure, abound given the impunity of federal judges and the complete lack of accountability for anything they do, even criminal.

Of course that witness was initially intimidated by Judge Kent to prevent her from providing similar testimony to the 5th Circuit in his disciplinary investigation.

Judge Kent was reportedly trying to tamper even with the subpoenaed witness against him before the grand jury proceeding, visiting her at home, trying to convince her to stick to her prior testimony that nothing other than "trying to kiss" really happened: "we need to circle the wagons. Everything’s going to be fine. I don’t want you to worry.”

And, Judge Kent used yet another court employee to try to tamper with that same 2nd victim to prevent her from testifying having her call the victim, tell her that she can't believe that she turned on the judge, and saying that judge will kill himself if she testifies - and that, after the judge's attorney thoroughly defames the victim in the press claiming that the relationship was consensual, the judge did not reveal it because he was a gentleman, and the victim is not simply trying to save her marriage.

The bottom line:

1) The 5th Circuit gave the sexual predator of many years, with many victims, only a reprimand and a 4-months leave of absence. 

2) After all the troubles with federal criminal indictment, the sexual predator-judge was allowed to plead guilty to a non-sexual crime, which allowed him not to register as a sex offender, a boon that would not have been provided to him, I am sure, had he not been a judge.

3) After being a sexual predator, with multiple victims, for nearly 18 years, "King Kent" served only 2 years in prison and is back at home with his family, another boon which a sex offender with Kent's history would not have been given - if he is not a judge.

4) the judge was not convicted of receiving gifts from lawyers, fixing cases (favoritism in decisions), or hiring an attorney who practiced before him, without disclosure of conflict of interest, to get a deal in the sale of his home - selling his judicial position for favors.


  • Favoritism and fixing cases
  • Repeated sexual crimes, with claims that nobody will dare to protect the victims - in a federal courthouse
  • Security officers whose duty was not only to protect the person of the judge, but to protect any person in that federal court house from coming to harm - looking the other way
  • Federal employees "circling the wagons", and even attempting to interfere with grand jury proceedings

For years.

No real discipline.

No real protection for employees.

No policies changed as a result - oh yes, the Galveston court has been shut down, cases transferred to another court.

Attorneys afraid to take the victim's case.

When did it happen that judges in this country - federal judges included - became kings?

When did it happen when the best way to prevent the risk of being sexually assaulted for a woman is not to go to work in a courthouse?

As to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that enabled further sexual harassment of not one, but three judges - sexual predators in federal district courts in that Circuit, Samuel King, Walter Smith and the one who was never disciplined, even though, according to testimony of a witness, he impregnated an employee  - stay tuned for more.

Judge Samuel Kent was taken off the bench - no thanks to the 5th Circuit who just "reprimanded" a sexual predator, the "drunk giant" as his victims called him at the sentencing, but did not protect the public by removing him from the courthouse.

The other ascertained sexual predator, Judge Walter Smith, is still on the bench in Waco court, and is still allowed to prowl in the courthouse, despite testimony that he is a sex criminal, and is even rewarded for his ordeal of the disciplinary proceedings with a lighter caseload - but the public, the litigants and attorneys and, certainly, the employees, are still exposed to his sexual hunting, and his rage in retaliation for the exposure in the disciplinary proceedings.

The lenient discipline can encourage Judge Smith into more crimes.

Because the courage of the three women, two who took on the sexual predator, Judge Samuel Kent, and one who came forward about sexual crimes of Judge Walter Smith, is an exception rather than the rule in federal employment, given the odds reporters of sexual harassment by judges are facing.

Thus, once again, the best way to prevent the risk of being raped is - not to get employed in the courthouse, where known sexual predators are aplenty, but where nobody will protect you from them.

No money, no salary or benefits are worth it.

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