The judge overseeing the sexual abuse trial against U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent has lifted a gag order in the case that had been challenged by journalists in an emergency motion, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, Fla., dissolved the order preventing all lawyers and witnesses involved in the case from divulging non-public information that might interfere with a fair trial, after media outlets including the Chronicle, The New York Times, The Galveston County Daily News, and KPRC-TV intervened in the case.
Kent, the first federal judge to be indicted for federal sex crimes, entered a guilty plea on Feb. 23 on the charge of obstruction of justice, also acknowledging that he had non-consensual sexual contact with two female employees.
Because of the guilty plea, journalists moved to challenge the gag order, arguing it was unconstitutional. Vinson wrote that in light of the plea, the order was no longer warranted and that "any statements in the media [would] have no effect upon the defendant’s sentencing," according to the Chronicle.