Next Steps in Judge's Impeachment
by: Laurie Johnson, June 22, 2009 10:06:32 pm
U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Kent is in prison, but is still technically a federal judge.
That's because its a lifetime appointment that can only be negated when a judge resigns or is removed by an act of Congress. Charles Rhodes is a professor of constitutional law at South Texas College of Law.
"You know an impeachment is kind of like a grand jury indictment in some ways. The Senate then is the one that actually tries the impeachment proceeding, convicting the accused and removing the accused from office. But in order to ensure that this isn't just purely political, it requires a super-majority in the Senate — at least two-thirds of the senators have to agree to convict the judge and remove the judge from office."
It's not often that lawmakers go through this process. Kent is only the 14th federal judge to be tried by the Senate.
"They're going to have a committee of the Senate hear the testimony and any of the evidence. And then the committee will make a presentation to the full Senate and then the Senate will vote on whether to convict and remove from office. And typically in these kinds of cases, I mean I would expect close to, if not unanimous, decision from the Senate."
Kent has already started his 33-month sentence for obstruction of justice. He was convicted of lying to investigators about the sexual assault of two of his female employees.
If the Senate convicts him, he'll be stripped of his title as well as all federal benefits and pension. The Senate trial is not yet on the calendar.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.