The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice suing the Inquirer may face renewed scrutiny of his own conduct, the Legal Intelligencer reports.
Justice Seamus McCaffery and his wife, Lise Rapaport, are suing the paper for “false light defamation” for a 2013 article depicting how Rapaport accepted large fees from companies that later had business before her husband and the court. The stories touched off an FBI investigation and changes to court rules, but McCaffery and Rapaport denied wrongdoing.
Now the Inquirer wants to test that last claim. Its lawyers want to subpoena eight law firms that reportedly contributed referral fees to Rapaport. McCaffery’s lawyers are trying to strike that request down.
In their response and motion to strike the objections to the subpoenas, the newspapers said McCaffery and Rapaport allege in their complaint that they did nothing improper, unethical or unlawful in connection with the fees Rapaport received and that the articles created the impression that they did.
“While defendants disagree with plaintiffs’ reading of the publications, plaintiffs, with these allegations, have put at issue the propriety, ethics and legality of their referral-related conduct,” the newspapers said in Wednesday’s court filing. “Therefore, because plaintiffs have made it a centerpiece of their case to liability and damages, defendants must be permitted to test in discovery their contention that they always acted properly, ethically and lawfully in connection with referral fees.”
In other words: If the basis of McCaffery’s lawsuit is that he did nothing wrong, the Inquirer wants a showing of evidence he did nothing wrong. A judge has not yet ruled on the issue.