July 31, 1996 |
Today, without fanfare, an era ends on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Chief Justice Robert N.C. Nix Jr. - who joined the court nearly a quarter-century ago, who became the first African American to head any state's highest court, and who weathered the most turbulent period in the Pennsylvania high court's history - retires today. For Nix, who turned 68 this month, it has been a quiet departure. There have been no ceremonies, no state-level proclamations, no official marking of the occasion, although state and local bar associations plan to honor him in September.
October 29, 1992 |
Never before have justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court disciplined a colleague, or even asked to - until now. Just this month, in a 2-1 decision, the Supreme Court ordered that Justice Rolf Larsen be publicly reprimanded for "providing information to a Common Pleas Court judge relating to a matter that was pending before her. " Some think the reprimand is too harsh. Others think it is far too merciful toward the man next in line for chief justice of the state's highest court.
October 6, 1997 |
Shortly before moving to the top of the highest court in the land, Associate Justice William Hobbs Rehnquist was known as "The Lone Ranger" because of his frequent solo dissents. He is a Lone Ranger no more. As the Supreme Court heads today into its 12th year under Chief Justice Rehnquist, it may justly be dubbed the Rehnquist Court. Often the conservative trio of Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have been joined by centrist Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy to generate 5-4 victories that are reshaping the law in the areas of race, religion and states' rights.
December 10, 2012 |
John Modugno showed up at Philadelphia Traffic Court that hot summer day to fight his $294.50 ticket for driving the wrong way and making an illegal turn. Judge H. Warren Hogeland found him guilty. Kurt Clements made his case that day, too. Hogeland's verdict - guilty of making an improper turn, a $126.50 fine. The same day, Hogeland also convicted Orion Green of driving his truck with expired inspection and emissions stickers. Green is still paying off his hefty fine. But Lise Rapaport made out OK. On July 16, 2010, Hogeland acquitted her of driving the wrong way on Market Street in Center City.
June 19, 2013
The level of confidence Pennsylvanians have in their justice system has dropped again with reports that the FBI is investigating state Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery. Federal authorities don't comment on active investigations, but sources told The Inquirer that they are looking at the hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney referral fees paid to McCaffery's wife, Lise Rapaport, who is also the justice's chief aide. Public officials can't use their office for personal gain.
October 10, 2014 |
The most famous legal analysis of hard-core pornography ever formulated was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's: "I know it when I see it. " Inconveniently enough, when it comes to the pornographic e-mail traded by Pennsylvania officials and uncovered by Attorney General Kathleen Kane, seeing it seems to be the hard part. Kane apparently relies on much more complex legal theories than Stewart's to decide who may see the explicit material in question. As The Inquirer reported this week, she initially demurred when the state's chief justice, Ronald D. Castille, tried to determine whether any judges had participated in Harrisburg's pornopalooza.
November 2, 2013
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille hasn't had the luxury of ignoring the state's most troubled courts. He presides over one of them. In the past year alone, one of the high court's recently deposed justices, Joan Orie Melvin, was sentenced to house arrest for misusing state staff. A sitting justice, Seamus P. McCaffery, is under federal scrutiny related to referral fees paid to his wife, who is also a lawyer and his top aide. McCaffery denies any wrongdoing and has been engaged in more or less open hostilities with Castille over the fees and other issues.
January 7, 1990 |
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who early in his Supreme Court tenure was kidded for being an ideological Lone Ranger, marks his 18th anniversary on the high court today - now the leader of a conservative majority. The survivor of a bruising 1986 Senate battle over his elevation to chief justice, Rehnquist has emerged as the collegial orchestrator of a major rightward shift in the court. "The Rehnquist court came of age" in 1989, said A.E. Dick Howard, a law professor at the University of Virginia.
January 21, 1999 |
In case you've been too busy to follow the Trial of the Century in the U.S. Senate, here's the complete official transcript so far: SERGEANT AT ARMS: Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! All persons shut up and pay attention for the trial of the impeachment of the president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, on charges of messing around! No chewing of gum! SEN. LOTT: At this time, in accordance with the United States Senate Big Book O' Rules, Sen. Thurmond shall swear in the Chief Justice of the United States.
January 14, 1999 |
The U.S. Senate may be the world's most exclusive club, but it never hurts to reinforce good manners among the members, particularly when the world is getting ready to watch the nation's second presidential impeachment trial ever. So yesterday a discreet reminder was distributed by the Leadership Working Group, a sort of Miss Manners committee of senators set up by Majority Leader Trent Lott (R., Miss.). For those concerned with the niceties of impeachment decorum, here are some of the rules the group came up with: Senators should plan to be in attendance at all times during the proceedings.