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Southern District of Texas Judge Sam Kent takes a Leave, Speculation Follows

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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As reported in Legal Trade, Houston’s Clear Thinkers, the Houston Chronicle and AbovetheLaw, U.S. District Judge Sam Kent will be temporarily absent. No reason for the absence has been given, leading many to conclude that it can’t be good, speculating that it results from some sort of complaint against Judge Kent or perhaps an illness.

AbovetheLaw takes the opportunity to point out Kent’s noted propensity to take poetic license in his opinions, to the amusement of all but the lawyer or party being tied to the whipping post therein. My favorite from Smith v. Colonial Penn. Ins. Co., 943 F. Supp. 782 (S.D. Tex. 1996):

“The Court, being somewhat familiar with the Northeast, notes that perceptions about travel are different in that part of the country than they are in Texas. A litigant in that part of the country could cross several states in a few hours and might be shocked at having to travel fifty miles to try a case, but in this vast state of Texas, such a travel distance would not be viewed with any surprise or consternation. FN1 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. . . . Alas, this Court’s kingdom for a commercial airport! FN2 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.”

FN1. “The sun is ‘rize, the sun is set, and we is still in Texas yet!”

FN2. 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.

AbovetheLaw also includes the venerable Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp., 147 F. Supp. 2d 668 (S.D. Tex. 2001) which is delightful for several other reasons, but continues to hold my fascination through the world’s single greatest use of a case parenthetical.

Plaintiff also neglects to provide any analysis whatsoever of why his claim versus Defendant Phillips is a maritime action. Instead, Plaintiff “cites” to a single case from the Fourth Circuit. Plaintiff’s citation, however, points to a nonexistent Volume “1886″ of the Federal Reporter Third Edition and neglects to provide a pinpoint citation for what, after being located, turned out to be a forty-page decision. Ultimately, to the Court’s dismay after reviewing the opinion, it stands simply for the bombshell proposition that torts committed on navigable waters (in this case an alleged defamation committed by the controversial G. Gordon Liddy aboard a cruise ship at sea) require the application of general maritime rather than state tort law. See Wells v. Liddy, 186 F.3d 505, 524 (4th Cir. 1999) (What the ..)?!

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Category: houston and harris county, texas, Texas, Texans & the Law

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One Response

  1. Mark Bennett says:

    My favorite Kent opinion is the one in which he refers to one of his Houston colleagues as a “propellerhead.” I’m trying to find a copy.

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