Saturday, October 27, 2007


Two federal court cases have just been resolved with the utmost leniency. One case involved the tainting of ground beef with rat poisnon and the other involved the unwanted sexual groping of a female court employee by a federal judge. These cases have turned justice into a joke.

In the rat poison case, Karen Wyndham, 45, was convicted of concealing d-Con rodent poison pellets in three packages of ground beef at a Kmart in North Charleston, South Carolina. Wyndham, who had worked at the store for five years, confessed that she tainted the packages because she was pissed off at her boss for giving her an unwanted job assignment.

No one suffered any ill effects because another Kmart employee discoverd that one of the meat packages had been opened. One other tainted package was discovered in a subsequent search by store employees. A customer returned a third package that had been opened and stuffed with the d-Con pellets.

Wyndham was facing up to three years in federal prison for consumer product tampering when U.S. District Judge David Norton sentenced her to one year of home detention, followed by five years of probation. She was also ordered to pay $4,400 restitution for the tainted meat and the cost of the search by Kmart employees. Judge Norton reasoned that had he sent Wyndham to prison, upon her discharge she would have been put on supervised release for only one year. Thus he opted for the longer probation supervision period.

Her defense attorney argued for leniency because Wyndham had a history of mental health issues. He also contended there was almost no risk to the public because the tampering was so obvious. A history of mental illness? So what! Obvious tampering? Ditto so what!

The tainting could have had tragic consequences. One year of home detention is a mere tap on the wrist. Judge Norton could have given Wyndham five years of probation with the condition that she serve one year in jail. Had he done so, justice would have been served.

In the sexual harassment case, Samuel Kent, 58, the only U.S. District Judge in Galveston, Texas, was accused of groping a female court employee. He was also investigated for allegations of sexual harassment against other court employees, excessive drinking, and showing favoritism in cases he tried. The charges were investigated by the Judicial Council of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The victim told her mother and several friends that against her will "His Honor" had put his hand up under her blouse, pushed her bra up and put his mouth on her bare breast, then forced her head down to his crotch. He did not stop until he heard footsteps approaching down a hallway. Harrassment my ass! That was a sexual assault! Her supervisor had blowbn off a previous incident reported by the victim.

Title 18 of the U.S. Code provides for up to two years in prison for a person who, on federal property, "knowingly engages in sexual contact with another," and defines sexual contact as "the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing," of another's private parts, specifically including the breast. It sure looks like "His Honor" committed a felony.

Apparently the allegations were found to be true. Judge Kent was reprimanded and suspended for four months with pay. He was also transferred to Houston and ordered to complete unspecified "remedial courses of action." Ostensibly, the transfer was designed to enable other district judges to scrutinize his future behavior.

Holy shit! That punishment is really excessive. Wow! Four months suspension WITH PAY - at an annual salary of $165,200, that would be $55,068. How will poor old Judge Kent ever be able to survive? Have the 5th Circuit judges taken leave of their senses? He committed a felony. They should have asked Judge Kent for his resignation and, barring that, they should have suspended him indefinitely without pay. And, the U.S. Attorney should have filed a sexual assault case against Kent.

All federal judges are appointed for life. The only way they can be removed from the bench is through impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives and subsequent conviction by the U.S. Senate. Judge Norton and Judge Kent should be impeached, Norton for his incomprehensible sentencing and Kent for his felonious misconduct. Come to think of it, so should the 5th Circuit judges who were so lenient wih Kent's punishment.

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