January 29, 2016 |
For the first time, two African American women will serve as the top judges in the Philadelphia court system, the state Supreme Court decided Wednesday. The high court appointed Judge Jacqueline F. Allen as administrative judge of the trial division of Common Pleas Court, which includes the system's busiest and most prestigious criminal and civil courtrooms. The court named Judge Sheila A. Woods-Skipper, already the president judge of Common Pleas Court, to chair the system's administrative governing board.
January 28, 2016 |
A charter-schools suit with major financial implications for the Philadelphia School District is one of 27 cases caught up in the turnover of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Back in September 2014, the court heard arguments in the case that centers on the School Reform Commission's authority to manage charter-school growth in the financially distressed district. The court never ruled. And now that only three of the justices who heard the arguments are still on the bench, the court last week said it would resubmit the case and decide it based on the legal briefs that have already been filed.
January 23, 2016 |
A report that two more Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices were no strangers to the state's sprawling electronic profanity exchange shows why the high court has been widely urged to order an independent investigation of the scandal - and why it hasn't done so. Given Attorney General Kathleen Kane's propensity to disclose the emails selectively to maximize distraction from her own travails, only an independent investigation can determine the true...
January 22, 2016 |
The state office that enforces ethical behavior by lawyers urged the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday to reaffirm its suspension of Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane's law license. Two weeks ago, Kane asked the high court to undo its unanimous order suspending her license. She did so as the state Senate moved forward on a proposal to remove her as the state's highest-ranking law enforcement official because she no longer has a license to practice law. Kane's lawyers said in her appeal that the Supreme Court's 5-0 vote in September was "incurably tainted" by the participation of Justice J. Michael Eakin, who is now facing misconduct charges because of his involvement in the so-called Porngate scandal.
January 9, 2016 |
As Pennsylvania's courts have relentlessly demonstrated, a judiciary populated by a partisan political process will behave accordingly. State Supreme Court Justice-without-portfolio J. Michael Eakin's attempt to engineer last-minute lame-duck appointments provides only the latest troubling evidence thereof. In December, on the brink of the high court's most dramatic shift in centuries and a proceeding that could remove him from office, Eakin urged his fellow justices to hastily install the next leaders of Philadelphia's patronage-rich court system, The Inquirer reported this week.
January 6, 2016 |
The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider Virtua Health's motion to block implementation of a law that would force the hospital to cede partial control of emergency medical services in Camden to Cooper University Hospital, pending the state's appeal. The high court said in an order that it would hear Virtua's full motion next Tuesday. The court's action comes after the Appellate Division reversed a lower court judge's stay of the law, signed by Republican Gov. Christie in July.
December 23, 2015 |
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin tearfully apologized Monday for exchanging emails that included pictures of naked women and crude jokes that mocked minorities, gays, lesbians, and others. But the justice also said he had been the victim of a "media circus" - "dragged through the mud without the opportunity to address the misstatements and, in my mind, the total dishonesty in many of the news reports. " Appearing before the judicial ethics court that is weighing misconduct charges against him, Eakin said he regretted the messages, sent and received on a private account but made public because they were exchanged on government computer servers.
December 8, 2015 |
Gov. Wolf on Sunday renewed his call for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin to resign, but the justice's lawyer said Eakin has no intention of stepping down. Wolf said Sunday that Eakin showed "a remarkable lack of judgment" by voting to fill a vacancy on the judicial disciplinary tribunal that is to weigh misconduct allegations against him in the pornographic email scandal. Elaborating on his criticism of Eakin's conduct, the governor issued a statement Sunday that reiterated his call for the justice to resign.
December 7, 2015 |
In 2009, State Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin exchanged emails with some old friends, including a state prosecutor and a prospective lower-court judge. Among the topics: visits to strip clubs and sexual gibes about female staffers in Eakin's office. At one point, the justice wrote that he had "a stake" of 50 one-dollar bills to give strippers - to resolve his "titty-deficit. " In that email from June 18, 2009, Eakin wrote that an incoming Dauphin County judge would soon learn that a discreet judge "has to go out of state to see boobs.
November 9, 2015 |
Cause and effect collided last week as the scandal-decimated ranks of Pennsylvania's highest court were replenished in a flurry of money and mudslinging. The three Democratic judges who were elected to the supremely troubled court range from adequately to highly qualified, but so do the Republican judges who weren't. What made the difference was likely the deluge of money from unions, lawyers, and other interests, about three-quarters of which went to the Democrats. In fact, the top three finishers were the top three fund-raisers in identical order: Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Kevin Dougherty followed by Superior Court Judges David Wecht and Christine Donohue.