Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Say it ain't so, Judge Kent!

I am troubled to hear of the various calls for the investigation and impeachment of Judge Sam Kent, a federal district judge sitting in Galveston, Texas. Not out of any particular affection for the man himself, as we have never met. Nor is it out of any particular interest in the rights of alleged sexual harrassers, although I am reserving judgment until I read more about what allegedly occurred. Rather, I will miss the opportunity to read some of the snarkiest, most inappropriately sarcastic rulings and opinions in the history of the federal court system. First off, the allegations: the Fifth Circuit has already issued a reprimand:
The reprimand against Kent says a court employee complained in May of sexual harassment and that an investigation led to other, unspecified complaints. The order issued last Friday didn’t say whether the 19 judges on the council determined the complaints to be true.
The list of ethical complaints beyond the harrassment is, uh, long.

If even a fraction of these are true, then investigation and possible impeachment are certainly appropriate. I merely want to take a moment to salute the man who singlehandedly, and quite facetiously, made the federal judiciary fun.

I now present Kent's greatest hits, as I see them.

  • In Smith v. Colonial Penn Ins. Co., Kent denied the insurance company's motion to transfer venue to Houston because of Galveston's lack of a major airport (and citing the convenience of both plaintiff and defendant in its motion), stating that "it is not this Court's concern how the 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."
  • In Rep. of Bolivia v. Phillip Morris Companies, et al, a tobacco lawsuit inexplicably brought by a South American nation in Brazoria County, Texas, Judge Kent ordered the case transferred to the District of Columbia, noting that "[w]hile this Court does not [after reviewing a somewhat dated globe] profess to understand all of the political subtleties of the geographical transmogrifications ongoing in Eastern Europe, the Court is virtually certain that Bolivia is not within the four counties over which this Court presides, even though the words Brazoria and Bolivia are a lot alike and caused some real, initial confusion until the Court conferred with its law clerks."
  • In Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp., Judge Kent granted one defendant's motion for summary judgment (dismissing the lawsuit before trial), noting the attorneys' general lack of preparedness:
    Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact -- complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words -- to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions. With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.
He may turn out to be an unethical sexual harasser, but dangit, he made judicial opinions entertaining. Justice Clarence Thomas can't even do that by accident.

No comments: