When Ron Castille Called Seamus McCaffery a “Sociopath”

The chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court weighs in on his colleague.


Ron Castille and Seamus McCaffery don’t much like each other. Anybody who has paid attention to rivalries on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in recent years knows that.

But McCaffery’s Monday suspension from the court over the “Porngate” scandal was accompanied Monday by a jeremiad from Castille, the court’s chief justice, that displayed a level of enmity rarely seen in American public life anymore.

Here are five of the most dramatic statements from Castille’s Monday concurring statement, which mostly agrees with the order to suspend McCaffery from his duties while the Judicial Conduct Board investigates:

On Castille’s motivations:

Justice McCaffery is correct in one of his allegations against me. I have been attempting to remove Justice McCaffery from this court. In my two decades of experience on this Court, no other Justice, including Justice Joan Orie Melvin, has done as much to bring the Supreme Court into disrepute. No other Justice has failed to live up to the high ethical demands required of a Justice of this Court or has been the constant focus of ethical lapses to the degree of Justice McCaffery.

On McCaffery’s alleged personality problems:

As a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I often had the occasion to review pre-sentence psychiatric reports, although I do not claim to be an expert in the field. One pathology that I do recall, and as confirmed in a review of a prominent medical journal, describes the pathology of an individual who has the personality traits of not caring about others, thinking he or she can do whatever is in that person’s own self-interest and having little or no sympathy for others. The most telling pathology is that when that person is caught, or called out for his transgressions, that person does not accept blame but instead blames others for his or her own misconduct. Those pathological symptoms describe a sociopath.

On McCaffery’s litany of alleged wrongdoing:

Justice McCaffery blames me for a series of egregious acts of misconduct on his part. However, it was not I who caused his wife to be cited for driving the wrong way on Market Street. It was not I who caused Justice McCaffery to meet with the main Philadelphia Traffic Court ticket fixer, an admitted feeling, to “discuss” his wife’s ticket which was then dismissed by a Traffic Court judge who later pled guilty to federal crimes arising from ticket fixing. It was not I who subpoenaed his wife’s traffic ticket file which was then officially brought to my attention as part of the review of Philadelphia Traffic Court — that was the work of the FBI. It was not I who gave his wife, a Supreme Court employee, permission to run a law practice out of Supreme Court chambers, earning millions of dollars. It was not I who referred that matter to the US. Attorney’s Office.

On the effects of “Porngate”:

It would be impossible for this Court to function effectively while Justice McCaffery sits on this Court. His so-called “lapse in judgment” wasted, at least, for many years as an adult. It is more than a lapse in judgment _ it has caused unmitigated turmoil in the justice system and has indirectly cost several state prosecutors and high ranking state officials their public careers. At least several of those individuals have had the decency to resign whereas the instigator of the pornographic emails still draws a taxypayer’s salary.

And the scandal’s effects on the court:

This Court has a scheduled argument session in the week of November 17, 2014. My question will be: How would it be possible for a court of seven members to sit in judgment of matters as the Commonwealth’s court of last resort when one Justice has brought this level of public contempt and has threatened another Justice to intervene illegally on Justice McCaffery’s behalf to change or alter fact-finding in relation to Justice McCaffery’s pornographic emails. Of more import,how can any party or litigant believe their matter and decided impartially while these scurrilous charges and accusations remain unsolved?

See the full memorandum below: