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February 24, 2009

"Is Kent getting off easy?"

The title of this post is the title of this piece in today's Houston Chronicle.  As highlighted in this post on the Kent case yesterday, I think the answer to this question is a tentative "yes" right now.  Here is how the Chronicle talks through the sentencing issues:

[Y]et to be seen is whether Kent will spend one night in prison for his crime. He faces 20 years, and prosecutors have requested three, but Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, visiting from Florida, has discretion.

Vinson’s track record in the case suggests Kent may rest easy in the punishment phase. After all, Vinson has been so concerned with protecting Kent from the powerful forces of media influence that he instated his own, unsolicited, gag order. Vinson continued enforcing the protective cloak of secrecy Monday even after the potential of jury taint was gone.

The pointless muzzle, which had also allowed Vinson to hold private hearings in the case, on Monday robbed the two victims the right to have their say in public after they’d lost the opportunity to do so in the courtroom.

Justice has been a long time coming for Kent, who may have escaped it altogether if not for the prying persistence of the press, notably the Houston Chronicle’s Lise Olsen, Rick Casey and Harvey Rice.

A just punishment for a federal judge who abused his powerful position and disgraced his office isn’t a wrist slap or a lifetime payout. Justice for Kent must sound more like a banging gavel than a half-hearted whisper.

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February 24, 2009 at 12:04 PM | Permalink


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Sounds like an argument for limiting the sentencing discretion of federal judges. Oh, yeah, Sens. Kennedy and Thurmond already tried that, unsuccessfully.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Feb 24, 2009 1:59:36 PM

actually Kent, it sounds like a great argument for appointing judges who take these types of crimes seriously.

Posted by: Daniel | Feb 24, 2009 7:12:53 PM

How can a court gag a crime victim? Could someone please explain? (Yes, I am serious.)

Posted by: federalist | Feb 24, 2009 7:53:09 PM


Once again, the court shows we have double standards, instead of "equal justice for all!"

This man committed a sex crime, and like everyone else, should be made to pay for that crime, and be on the sex offender registry. I do not know him, nor his cases, but I am willing to bet he has sentenced many people to prison for exactly what he did.

This is just absurd, and unfair to other sex offenders, and to the victims of his crime.

Posted by: Sex Offender Issues | Feb 24, 2009 9:53:07 PM

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