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Convicted US federal judge submits resignation effective in one year

[JURIST] Convicted US district court judge Samuel Kent [official profile] on Tuesday submitted his letter of resignation to President Barack Obama effective June 2010, after pleading guilty [JURIST report] to obstruction of justice [18 USC § 1512(c)(2) text] charges in connection with the alleged sexual harassment of his secretary and former case manager. The delayed resignation would allow Kent to collect his full current salary of $174,000 and full health benefits until next year, at which point he would not receive any continuing benefits or pension. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) [official website], ranking minority member of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website], told reporters that the committee would move forward [Houston Chronicle report] with impeachment proceedings, scheduled to begin Wednesday [hearing calendar], with the goal of removing Kent from office before his resignation becomes effective. A disciplinary panel from the Fifth Circuit has urged [certification letter, PDF; JURIST report] the committee to impeach Kent promptly.

In February, Kent pleaded guilty to lying to a judicial panel [Fifth Circuit materials] investigating sexual harassment allegations made by his former case manager and legal secretary. He was sentenced [JURIST report] in May to 33 months in prison, and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $6,500 in restitution as part of his plea agreement [text, PDF]. In 2007, the American Bar Association (ABA) [professional association] adopted new policies reforming the Model Code of Judicial Conduct [JURIST report], which for the first time included prohibitions against sexual harassment, although some advocacy groups believe these changes do not go far enough [AP report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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