About the only time Judge Samuel Kent's courtroom behavior was not booming or sarcastic or cruel was yesterday, when he barely whispered "guilty" to charges of obstruction of justice.
He made the plea in order to escape a trial on charges of sexual harassment of his female employees, but in doing so he deprived Houston of what promised to be a very entertaining trial.
What did we miss?
1. Rusty Hardin vs. Dick De Guerin. Technically this wouldn't have been a head-to-head matchup, as federal prosecutors would have been handling the case. But Hardin represented one of Kent's key accusers, and DeGuerin represented the judge, and watching these two tangle would have been a hell of a show. We're pretty sure Hardin would have faced a bit more of a challenge than he did defending Victoria Osteen.
2. Kent arguing the sex was "consensual." Sam Kent, irresistable sex machine -- despite being an utterly average-looking older dude with no apparent playa skillz -- was planning to argue that the incidents in question were consensual. In other words, that his female employees got off on the fact that he would come back from a liquid lunch and run his hands up their blouses and push their heads toward the lil' bit of heaven that is the Kent groin. Because chicks dig that shit.
3. The sympathy card. Kent was well-known for being an utter prick in the courtroom, and not just in the back hallways with the help. Even in the world of federal judges, where egos can put naval aviators to shame, he stood out, regularly and publicly belittling attorneys and making sure every one was aware of his genius. If the sex-trial had gone on, though, we apparently were going to hear about how he was seeing a psychiatrist, a psychologist, was being treated for diabetes and stress. Which, we guess, made it OK for him to be King Jerk whenever he felt like it.
4. The parade of character witnesses. Before he switched to his whispering mode, Kent's last courtroom appearance featured him booming out not only that he was pleading "not guilty" but that he was planning to have a phalanx of witnesses to back him up. Watching these cronies grit their teeth as they went through their duty, likely having to admit that "Well, yes, once in a while Judge Kent was a little high-handed, but I never personally saw him stick his hand up that particular secretary's blouse," would have been fun.
5. Watching Kent try to contain himself as his attorney represented him. When you're a legal genius like Sam Kent, you know how to run a courtroom and present a case, as he endlessly reminded attorneys he thought were hapless. It's hard to imagine Dick DeGuerin letting a client run over him; it's equally hard to imagine Sam Kent sitting quietly at the defense table while he's convinced he's got a better strategic and tactical feel for his defense than the guy he hired to represent him, who obviously isn't smart enough to be a federal judge. Would there have been fisticuffs between the two before the trial ended? Probably not, but it would have been fun to watch just how close they came.
-- Richard Connelly