Law360 reports: “McKean County Court of Common Pleas Judge John M. Cleland was appointed Wednesday to preside over a libel suit brought by state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery and his wife, five days after the co-owners of Philadelphia’s two major newspapers won a bid to recuse the entire Philadelphia bench.”
Cleland is apparently the go-to guy for mass recusals in Pennsylvania: He served as judge in the Jerry Sandusky case after every judge in Centre County was recused over their connections to Sandusky, Penn State, or the Second Mile charity that Sandusky ran.
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. The articles quoted legal experts questioning the matter.
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