Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

No New Sentence for Judge Obstructing Justice

(CN) - A former federal judge who is serving a 33-month prison sentence cannot be resentenced after allegedly suffering inhumane treatment behind bars, a Houston federal judge ruled.

Former U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent pleaded guilty in February 2009 to obstruction of justice and resigned his seat on the bench after two female employees accused him of sexual abuse.

The obstruction charge alleges that Kent lied to a 5th Circuit Judicial Council panel investigating the women's claims.

Kent was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and was the only federal district judge in Galveston for several years.

In Kent's request for an evidentiary hearing, he wrote that he expected a one-year sentence reduction for participating in a Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) through the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

A memorandum from Kent's attorney, Dick DeGuerin with DeGuerin Dickson, claims that Kent was not allowed to participate into RDAP despite a documented history of depression and alcohol addiction. Kent also claims he was arbitrarily classified as a sex offender and subjected to substantial time in solitary confinement, as well as "unusually cruel and abusive treatment."

Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson denied Kent's motion to vacate the sentence and granted the request for an evidentiary hearing regarding Vinson's sentencing intent.

"While I anticipated that the defendant needed the benefit of several of the Bureau of Prisons' medical, mental health, and substance abuse programs, I knew that he could not qualify or participate in all, or perhaps in any, and that the security level of the institution to which he was designated and the separation requirements would probably receive BOP priority," Vinson wrote. "I had no expectation that he would receive a reduction for participation in the RDAP or any other BOP program."

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.