Porngate Emails Will Cost Ex-Judge $50K

The Court of Judicial Discipline ripped Michael Eakin for damaging the Supreme Court's reputation — and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine in six months.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin arrives for a hearing Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, at the Northampton County courthouse in Easton, Pa. to determine whether he should be suspended while a judicial ethics court decides if his email practices warrant discipline.

Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, arriving for a hearing at the Northampton County courthouse in December.

A sudden resignation might have saved Michael Eakin’s pension, but the former state Supreme Court justice isn’t getting away scot-free for having shared racist, pornographic and misogynistic emails with his buddies.

The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline today ordered Eakin to pay a $50,000 fine to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts within six months. The money will be forwarded to the state’s general fund.

Eakin resigned early last week, rather than face a looming misconduct trial for emails that he sent from a private account to a group of fishing buddies, one of whom worked for the state Attorney General’s Office.

(The emails were uncovered during an internal investigation commissioned by state Attorney General Kathleen Kane shortly after she took office in 2013. But you’ve probably heard about that by now.)

A few days after Eakin resigned, a deposition of the now-former Supreme Court justice — recorded last fall — was made public.

It, uh, wasn’t pretty. Eakin tried to explain the humor behind a domestic violence “joke” that he shared with his friends, and discussed the pros and cons of a judge visiting a strip club. He even told an Irish joke for good measure.

But the Court of Judicial Discipline isn’t laughing. It singled out one email Eakin sent to his pals about visiting a strip club. “I’ve got a stake of 50 ones and a titty-deficit that needs cured,” Eakin wrote in the message.

Eakin’s emails “not only did not promote the public’s confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, but drastically damaged the reputation of the state judiciary,” the court wrote in its ruling.

“The common thread of the emails, with their imagery of sexism, racism and bigotry, is arrogance and the belief that an individual is better than his or her peers,” the court wrote.

“Such beliefs are antithetical to the privilege of holding public office, where the charge is to serve, not demean, our citizens.”

Eakin previously argued the “tabloid press” had sensationalized the story of the emails.

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