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February 25, 2009

More questions and fall-out following Judge Kent's guilty plea

I am most interested in the plea and sentencing issues in light of the ugliness surrounding the crimes and prosecution of now-former federal district judge Samuel Kent (basics here).  But, as detailed in these stories, this notable case stirs up a lot of other interesting legal issues:

The Chronicle story spotlights how Kent's latest claim of mental disabilities could lead to attempts to re-open some cases:

Kent told a judge Monday that he’s been treated for diabetes and psychiatric and psychological problems for the past three years.  He also said he is taking medications for all those conditions.

Tuesday the more than 200 cases that were on Kent’s Houston courthouse docket were reassigned, according to David Bradley, chief deputy clerk for the Houston area federal district. Kent had only heard civil cases since January 2008 and stopped hearing any cases in January of this year. 

Some area lawyers said Kent’s claim of disability to get retirement could raise questions about his legal decisions in the last few years in which he said he was suffering the same problems.

Kent Schaffer, a local criminal defense attorney, said if Kent thinks his symptoms are severe enough that he could take disability, they might be severe enough that attorneys should take another look at cases he decided.  “It would be malpractice for a lawyer who had a case before Kent in the last two years or so to not take a look at this,” Schaffer said. “In essence it’s an invitation to reopen cases.”

February 25, 2009 at 07:55 AM | Permalink


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The Kent case raises a personal beef: the lack of courage and principles on the part of federal district court judges and their circuit judge overseers, to speak up and out when one of their fellows is mis-performing and frankly not doing his/her job. It is without doubt that Kent's antics were known to others in that federal court family, and it took a mighty long time and criminal charges before anything was done. If a defendant is entitled to competent counsel, he/she is certainly entitled to a competent judge. Every federal practitioner knows of at least one district judge who routinely engages in off-hand, inattentive, unprepared, irrational and stupid behavior and decisions (sometimes while obviously intoxicated) which mightily call into question fitness to serve. That judge routinely gets upheld on appeal. He/she seems to drag himself/herself onto the bench after lunchtime libations. The courts refuse to police themselves, and the litigants suffer as a result.

Posted by: TES | Feb 25, 2009 2:28:47 PM

Here is a civil case that warrants re looking into. As a matter of fact, all of the civil suits filed in that Galveston courtroom by Attorney Frank Spanoletti on behalf of hundreds of injured off shore oil and gas workers on Lousiana's gulf coast. The clients were swooped up by Mr. Spagnoletti and filed for Judge Kent to rule on for many years extensively from 2004-2007; during the plight of his downfall. Given Kent's record as a prosecuters judge, Mr. Spagnoletti wins every case he files and often the duo would slam dunk injured innocent workers on their heads with loosing their job, maliciously bullying insurance companies in corporate depositions, before robbing families blind of the benefits and entitlements their entitled by intimidation, lies, and under the table favors. Many of workers are tied into the countries Medicare system now because of not getting the proper treatement while waiting for their lawsuit to accumulate maximum recovery, not would they allocate the money recorverd appropriately in fixed settlements between Frank Spagnoletti, attorneys represeting the insurance companies they sue, and the dis-honorable judge Samuel B. Kent. This criminal should never see the light of day, muchless have his poor decisions be upheld.....

Posted by: Joey Madison | Feb 19, 2010 5:14:29 AM

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