RE: Porngate — Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin Resigns
The never-ending Porngate saga claimed another victim today, as embattled Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin resigned from office.
“We’ve been struggling with this decision for a long time,” said William Costopoulos, Eakin’s attorney, “but it was the only decision to be made that would help bring closure to this unwarranted and unnecessary scandal.”
Eakin was suspended — with pay — in December by the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline over inappropriate emails he received and sent from a personal email account. Some of the messages contained jokes that mocked domestic violence victims, blacks and Muslims.
He’d been previously cleared of wrongdoing over the emails by the state Judicial Conduct Board, but the Daily News last fall revealed that the board’s chief counsel, Robert Graci, was a friend of Eakin’s. The material was reviewed a second time, and Eakin was suspended.
His reaction to the situation ran the gamut, from expressing remorse over sending the emails to blaming the “tabloid press” for sensationalizing the scandal.
Eakin, a Republican, is the second state Supreme Court justice to resign over the Porngate saga, joining Seamus McCaffery, a Democrat, who left office in 2014.
Costopoulos described Eakin as “one of the finest jurists” of the court in recent memory. But if Eakin had been found guilty of misconduct, his attorney said, he could have faced the “death penalty” — being removed from office and losing his pension.
“I was not willing to risk his life’s work, his family’s anguish or his pension,” Costopoulos said. “The decision, of course, was his, and I understand it. I support it. But I am very disturbed by what we had to do today.”
Eakin was among the state Supreme Court justices who voted last fall to suspend state Attorney General Kathleen Kane‘s law license.
As you no doubt know by now, the pornographic emails were discovered by a special investigator who was hired by Kane as part of her 2012 campaign pledge to review the Attorney General’s Office’s investigation into convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky.
Kane, of course, has her own legal troubles. She’s expected to go to trial in the summer over perjury and conspiracy charges for allegedly leaking grand jury information to the Daily News as part of an all-consuming feud with Frank Fina, a former state prosecutor.
“Unraveling an old boys network trafficking in hate-filled emails is an ugly and painful process,” Kane’s spokesman, Chuck Ardo, said this afternoon.
“No one understands this better than the attorney general. In the end, however, she believes it is essential to restore integrity and honor to our system of justice.”
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