Senate Halts Impeachment Trial Against District Judge

Posted July 22, 2009 at 1:34pm

The Senate officially called off the impeachment trial of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent on Wednesday.

Kent, who is serving a 33-month sentence for obstruction of justice, finally resigned on June 30, after the House of Representatives presented the Senate with articles of impeachment against him.

Following his resignation, the House adopted a resolution urging the Senate to dismiss the articles of impeachment, but the Senate also needed to terminate its trial proceedings.

Formally halting Senate proceedings required that all Senators come to the floor Wednesday to convene their Court of Impeachment. They received a message from House Members serving as impeachment managers and adopted a motion to terminate the Senate’s deliberations.

Though Kent pleaded guilty only to giving false testimony to investigators, those charges arose from additional allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted female court employees in Galveston, Texas.

The House pursued impeachment proceedings because Kent initially refused to resign after his plea in May. He had attempted to continue collecting his $174,000 federal salary and benefits while in jail. Kent had originally said he would resign, effective June 2010.

A Senate conviction on the impeachment charges would have resulted in his removal from the federal payroll.

Throughout the nation’s history, the House has impeached just 18 officials — including Kent and former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton; the Senate has convicted only seven of those.