It was the Houston Chronicle that publicized accusations against Texas federal judge Samuel Kent involving the attempted sexual assault of his case manager. How he has been indicted on charges of abusive sexual contact and attempted aggravated sexual abuse. Now, says Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has imposed a sweeping gag order in the case without anybody’s even asking him to. Law Prof. Steven Lubet of Northwetern University says he never has heard of such an order in a federal case.
Vinson cited “extensive local and national publicity” on the case and a demonstrated willingness by the alleged victim and the prosecuting attorneys to “try this case in the press” and manipulate media coverage to gain favorable attention. Falkenberg notes that coverage of the Kent case has been minor compared, for example, with the Enron case, which had generated thousands upon thousands of news articles, immeasurable radio and TV coverage, books and even silver-screen fame by 2005, when federal Judge Sim Lake denied prosecutors’ request to gag Ken Lay.