An out-of-county judge will be appointed to preside over Seamus McCaffery’s lawsuit against the Philadelphia Inquirer. Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, the presiding judge in the civil division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Please, made the order Friday afternoon.
The order is a victory for defendants in the case, who had argued that McCaffery’s ties to the district’s judges and lawyers —he’s a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice from Philadelphia — would create the appearance of a conflict of interest to every judge here.
McCaffery and and Lise Rapaport filed suit against the Inquirer last month, followingInquirer articles in 2013 that detailed how Rapaport, McCaffery’s wife and chief judicial aide,received fees for steering cases to personal injury firms — and that in eight of 11 appeals, McCaffery voted for the position favored by the firms that had paid Rapaport in other cases.
After the articles appeared, the court adopted rules prohibiting judges from hiring relatives or sitting on corporate boards. The articles also prompted an FBI investigation, McCaffery acknowledged. In court filings, however, he has asserted that he has done “nothing wrong, illegal, or unethical,” and says the Inquirer’s reporting — along with the Daily News‘ editorializing on the issue — cast him and his wife in a false light