Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin suspended in Porngate scandal
The Court of Judicial Discipline has suspended Justice J. Michael Eakin on an interim basis with pay pending his trial on the merits over his involvement in the exchange of offensive emails, reported The Legal Intelligence. The suspension, the third of a sitting state Supreme Court justice since 2012, comes following a hearing Monday in which Eakin tearfully apologized and claimed that his lesson had been learned.
Eakin has been charged by the Judicial Conduct Board with four ethics violations over sending and receiving emails with sexist, racist and otherwise offensive content. The CJD's six-page per curiam order requests pretrial memoranda from both Eakin and the JCB by Jan. 11 and sets a pretrial conference for Jan. 21 in Harrisburg.
"The emails demonstrate that Justice Eakin participated in a pattern of not only receiving emails which were insensitive and inappropriate toward matters involving gender, race, sexual orientation and ethnicity, but also sending and forwarding a number of such emails," the order said.
At Monday's hearing, Eakin's defense before a three-judge panel of the court centered on the argument that his 20 years of opinion writing have been free of bias, but the court noted its concern at even the suggestion of such bias.
"There should be no doubt that this court is deeply and profoundly troubled by even a remote possibility that the patently discriminatory and offensive views and attitudes expressed in the emails underlying this case may have impacted Justice Eakin's judicial work," the order said.
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