(November 2015) A pornographic email scandal that has consumed the state Office of Attorney General and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in controversy and public ire.
J. Michael Eakin. Source:Philadelphia Tribune
Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge J. Michael Eakin is accused of sending a ‘joke’ e-mail that tells a domestic violence victim to keep her mouth shut in order to avoid further beatings from her husband. Another e-mail made a joke about incest that featured a topless 18-year-old girl reportedly from Arkansas asking whether her brothers were gay because she was ‘still a virgin’.
also allegedly received and sent pornographic images and racist messages with prosecutors, by using a private email account under the name “John Smith”. Some e-mail messages used racial slurs when describing Muslim children as “terrorists” and Mexicans as “beaners” and “animals”. Other e-mails are described as “misogynistic pornography”.
The e-mails were discovered on agency computer servers by Attorney General Kathleen Kane during a review of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse investigation. Kane was able to access Eakin’s e-mail messages (and others) because the digital information was stored on her office’s computers as the emails flew between senders and recipients.
Kane’s law license was suspended as a result of perjury charges stemming from the investigation. Kane was charged with perjury for leaking e-mails to the public and then lying about it. Kane has also been accused of obstructing administration of the law and related offenses. Justice Eakin is a member of the state Supreme Court, whose vote was responsible for the suspension of Kane’s law license. Kane argues the charges against her are just retaliation for exposing the e-mails.
The attorney general’s office submitted more than 1,000 emails involving Justice Eakin’s private email address along with complaint letters to the Court of Judicial Discipline, the State Ethics Commission, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court and the state Supreme Court. Justice Eakin said he would fully cooperate with an investigation into the matter. The board’s initial review dismissed the emails as “mildly pornographic” and recommended that no action be taken against Justice Eakin. Justice Eakin has since apologized.
The state Judicial Conduct Board who is leading the investigation has also been subject of investigation. A board member has been accused of receiving pornographic e-mails. Eugene Dooley, the board member, allegedly received sexually explicit emails from a former Supreme Court justice, Seamus McCaffery. McCaffery left the bench after details about his own explicit e-mails were made public.
Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (Dem) and a coalition of clergy, civil rights and civic leader have called for the immediate resignation of Justice Eakin, along with 3 others who received the e-mails. Justice Eakin’s emails were sent to district attorneys, public defenders, assistant U.S. attorneys, and a significant number of private attorneys in the Harrisburg area. Including Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico; judges Bruce Bratton and Bernard Coates Jr.; Dauphin County First Deputy District Attorney Fran Chardo; Chief Public Defender Bradley Winnick; and Chief Deputy Public Defender Greg Mills. Williams asked for a special prosecutor, assigned by the state attorney general, to investigate an alleged cover-up.
Sen. Williams said about the Justice Eakin,”These emails are riddled with hate speech. All of them undermine the integrity of our judiciary, and they raise serious questions about Justice Eakin’s impartiality and his common sense, especially as it affects women and minorities…he judicial system is tragically broken. This doesn’t stop with Eakin, it starts with Eakin. This is a state Supreme Court justice, this is someone who is in line to possibly become the state’s chief justice.”