The Fifth Circuit is on the brink of making history, just not the type of history that anyone would want. Two district court judges — Samuel Kent and Thomas Porteous — are facing calls for impeachment. Both cases now appear quite serious and worsening by the day.
First, there is Samuel Kent. Kent is facing possible criminal charges and impeachment after accusations of sexual harassment and assault. He is under investigation by the Justice Department. Now, the 5th Circuit Judicial Council has decided to defer taking any further disciplinary action against Judge Samuel Kent for at least 90 days while the criminal investigation moves forward. For that story, click hereKent was suspended from the bench and reprimanded by the 5th Judicial Circuit after McBroom, his case manager, in May filed a formal complaint against him.She complained that on a Friday afternoon in March, Kent called her into his office, pushed up her shirt and bra, put his mouth on her breast and tried to force her head into his crotch, her mother and her attorney have said.
Now there is the sad case of Judge Porteous. The same Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit looking at Kent has concluded that there is sufficient evidence to impeach Porteous for lying in bankruptcy court, accepting gifts from lawyers with cases before him, and other misconduct. The Council found that Porteous “has engaged in conduct which might constitute one or more grounds for impeachment.”
The finding will now go to the Judicial Conference of the United States headed by Chief Justice John Roberts to decide whether to refer the case to Congress. If Porteous is smart, he will resign rather than become the 14th judge to be impeached in the United States. Ironically, his case would be reviewed by one of those impeached jurists: Alcee L. Hastings of Florida. Hastings went on to become a member of Congress and has proven quite effective in this role.
For the Porteous story, click here