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12 Salacious Notes From Pa.'s Supreme Court Porn Scandal

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 22, 2014 11:20 AM

This is still one of the most ridiculous scandals of all time: A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice years ago sent pornographic emails, using a personal account, to his friends, some of whom worked in the Office of the Attorney General, making the communications arguably ex-parte. And we thought that was it: a handful of dirty emails.

Justice Seamus McCaffery, however, is now suspended. The war of words has escalated between him and Chief Justice Ronald Castille, and has spilled over to personal insults in published opinions. In addition, rumors of ticket-fixing, an unethical referral fee arrangement, and more are circulating like buzzards above McCaffery's career.

The scandal just went from boring to arguably the greatest judicial scandal of our time. (It's certainly the most entertaining, especially now that they are bickering in court opinions.) Here are 12 quick notes from our exhaustive coverage:

  1. McCaffery was just suspended with pay pending a Judicial Conduct Board investigation.
  2. Two justices didn't take part in the decision: McCaffery and Justice J. Michael Eakin, who also allegedly had a personal porn email account and who was allegedly told by McCaffery to squash the report about the emails or else, as McCaffery "was not going down alone."
  3. One justice, Debra Todd, dissented from the state Supreme Court's opinion, calling for due process before suspending a fellow justice over unvetted and unproven claims.
  4. McCaffery is the second Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice to be suspended by that court in the last three years. Previously, Justice Orie Melvin was suspended after being charged with (and later convicted of) multiple felonies stemming from her campaign. (McCaffery hasn't been charged with any crimes.)
  5. According to Castille, one of McCaffery's porn emails contained a naked 100-year-old woman, while a second email contained a "video of a woman in sexual congress with a snake."
  6. Chief Justice Castille called McCaffery a "sociopath" in his concurrence with the court's suspension order.
  7. The opinion also mentioned a past ticket-fixing scandal: Castille said that McCaffery got a ticket for that his wife received for driving the wrong way on Market Street fixed.
  8. And then there was the alleged referral fee scandal: McCaffery's wife and chief judicial assistant Lise Rapaport were supposedly paid referral fees in civil cases while working in McCaffery's chambers; some of the law firms that paid fees had cases in front of McCaffery's court. Castille, in his opinion, said that she made "millions."
  9. On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office released a statement saying that the investigation into the fee scandal has concluded and no charges would be filed.
  10. McCaffery and Rapaport sued the Philadelphia Inquirer over the newspaper's coverage of the fees. That suit was dropped yesterday with the only condition being that the newspaper had to report on the USAO's statement regarding the concluded investigation. (H/T to The Legal Intelligencer.)
  11. Castille, in his concurrence, admitted this: "Justice McCaffery is correct in one of his allegations against me. I have been attempting to remove Justice McCaffery from this Court."
  12. McCaffery called "porngate" a "cooked up controversy" and addressed the other allegations by pointing out that despite investigations, he was never charged.

What's the lesson, folks? Never look at porn, especially over email. Also, don't piss off the chief: This one only has a few more months on the bench and has nothing to lose by trying to take you down.

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