Court watchers have had an eye on Federal Judge Samuel Kent for years, presiding over the Galveston Federal Courthouse. Turns out he should have been eyed a bit more closely.
Kent was famous for his amazingly funny and sarcastic court rulings. But the briefs he was paying the most attention to turned out not to be a laughing matter.
He was sentenced yesterday to almost 3 years in prison. It seems he was groping both his secretary and his case manager, then lied about it to investigators. There’s something particularly repulsive when the folks tasked with providing the last line of defense against an unjust world are themselves causing injustice and abuse.
One person not likely to shed tears over the fall of Judge Kent is the poor downtrodden defense lawyer Kent ruled against in Smith v. Colonial Penn Insurance Co., 943 F. Supp. 782 (S.D. Tex. 1996), in which the defendant had no desire to travel to the Galveston courthouse for trial, and instead requested a change of venue to Houston. The motion was denied in classic form:
Defendant should be assured that it is not embarking on a three- week-long trip via covered wagons when it travels to Galveston. Rather, Defendant will be pleased to discover that the highway is paved and lighted all the way to Galveston, and thanks to the efforts of this Court’s predecessor, Judge Roy Bean, the trip should be free of rustlers, hooligans, or vicious varmints of unsavory kind. Moreover, the speed limit was recently increased to seventy miles per hour on most of the road leading to Galveston, so Defendant should be able to hurtle to justice at lightning speed. To assuage Defendant’s worries about the inconvenience of the drive, the Court notes that Houston’s Hobby Airport is located about equal drivetime from downtown Houston and the Galveston courthouse. Defendant will likely find it an easy, traffic-free ride to Galveston as compared to a congested, construction-riddled drive to downtown Houston. The Court notes that any inconvenience suffered in having to drive to Galveston may likely be offset by the peacefulness of the ride and the scenic beauty of the sunny isle.
As to Defendant’s argument that Houston might also be a more convenient forum for Plaintiff, the Court notes that Plaintiff picked Galveston as her forum of choice even though she resides in San Antonio. Defendant argues that flight travel is available between Houston and San Antonio but is not available between Galveston and San Antonio, again because of the absence of a commercial airport. Alas, this Court’s kingdom for a commercial airport! The Court is unpersuaded by this argument because it is not this Court’s concern how Plaintiff gets here, whether it be by plane, train, automobile, horseback, foot, or on the back of a huge Texas jackrabbit, as long as Plaintiff is here at the proper date and time. Thus, the Court declines to disturb the forum chosen by the Plaintiff and introduce the likelihood of delay inherent in any transfer simply to avoid the insignificant inconvenience that Defendant may suffer by litigating this matter in Galveston rather than Houston.
Defendant will again be pleased to know that regular limousine service is available from Hobby Airport, even to the steps of this humble courthouse, which has got lights, indoor plummin’, ‘lectric doors, and all sorts of new stuff, almost like them big courthouses back East.
Yes, Judge Kent, guess where else has lights, indoor plummin’, ‘lectric doors, and all sorts of new stuff? Prison.