Justice Eakin Faces “Porngate” Hearing

Three-judge panel to decide if he should be suspended during ethics investigation.

A three-judge panel will consider today whether Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin should be suspended for his participation in the swapping of sexually explicit and racist emails that has come to be known as “Porngate.”

The hearing comes nearly two weeks after Pennsylvania’s Judicial Conduct Board brought disciplinary charges against Eakin on Tuesday, saying Eakin’s participation in the swapping of so-called “Porngate” emails had brought disrepute upon the state’s judicial branch.

The Court of Judicial Discipline will eventually hear those charges. Today’s hearing will decide if Eakin should be suspended pending the outcome of that process.

“This hearing is necessary due to the allegations in the Complaint that Justice Eakin has used government equipment to exchange emails which include sexually explicit, misogynist, racist or homophobic passages. These emails are also said to include lewd references to judicial employees,” Conference Judge Jack Panella wrote in the order mandating today’s hearing. “According to the Complaint, although these emails were originally intended to be private conversations they have now become public, potentially resulting in grave damage to the public’s confidence in and integrity of the Pennsylvania judiciary.”

“Justice J. Michael Eakin’s opinions were never driven by, reflective of, or tonally affected by color or gender. All opinions were based on the facts of the cases before him and the law,” his attorneys wrote last week in response to the charges. (See the full response below.)

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. today.