November 29, 2015 |
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has removed a senior judge who once presided over many of the state's biggest grand jury investigations, accusing him of judicial misconduct and abandoning his sense of objectivity during a feud with Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane. In a letter, the high court told Barry F. Feudale it was "deeply concerned" about his judgment and behavior, citing in part emails he sent to Inquirer reporters after Kane had successfully bid to have him ousted as the supervising grand jury judge in Harrisburg.
November 23, 2015 |
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin's latest attempt to quell concerns about his fitness for the bench has had the opposite effect. His proposal to resolve the controversy over his offensive emails is so wrongheaded as to raise further doubts about his judgment. Eakin said in a statement last week that the Judicial Conduct Board should abort its second investigation of his emails and refer the matter to the Court of Judicial Discipline. The justice was trying to respond to misgivings about the conduct board's premature exoneration of him last year as well as its glaring conflicts of interest - namely, a chief counsel who worked for Eakin and a member who received similar emails.
November 21, 2015 |
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, responding to criticism that the Judicial Conduct Board had treated him too leniently in a review of his offensive emails, said Thursday that the panel should no longer play a role in investigating him. Instead, Eakin recommended that his case be taken up by the six judges on the Court of Judicial Discipline, which weighs misconduct allegations against judges and hands out punishment. "In an effort to alleviate any mistrust of the process, I have asked the Judicial Conduct Board to forgo further deliberation of this matter and remove the matter to the Court of Judicial Discipline immediately," the justice said in a brief statement.
November 18, 2015 |
PORNGATE is escalating. Yesterday, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, backed by civil-rights advocates, clergy and community leaders, accused state officials of participating in a "coverup" of the email scandal involving a state Supreme Court justice and other law-enforcement officials. Williams, the third-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, gathered his allies behind a podium at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to call for the immediate resignation of Justice J. Michael Eakin and those who failed to hold him accountable.
November 16, 2015 |
IT WAS A GOOD DAY for Jerry Sandusky - and a bad day for people who wanted to keep down their lunches. A panel of Commonwealth Court judges yesterday said Sandusky, the convicted pedophile and ex-Penn State defensive coach, should have his $4,900-a-month state pension reinstated. The seven judges unanimously ruled that the State Employees' Retirement Board erred when it stripped Sandusky of his pension in 2012 - after he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys - on the grounds that he was still a "de facto" Penn State employee when he sexually assaulted some of the children.
November 12, 2015 |
MAYBE STATE Attorney General Kathleen Kane was right about that old-boys' network in Pennsylvania politics. Apparently, it even reaches into the state Supreme Court. Wednesday, the chief counsel for the state's Judicial Conduct Board stepped aside from an investigation into a Supreme Court justice's raunchy emails after the Daily News reported that he was a friend of the justice's and had played a lead role in his re-election campaign. Board lawyer Robert Graci, who is responsible for reviewing and processing complaints of judicial misconduct, confirmed to the newspaper on Monday that he had worked on Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin's 2011 retention-campaign committee.
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.
November 5, 2015
AND SO from the ashes of yet another nobody knows/nobody cares statewide judicial election come results open to interpretation about state politics and the state's political future. Three Democrats with strong union backing, including Philly Judge Kevin Dougherty, swept three open seats on the state's highest (and sometimes highly embarrassed) court. Their win in what national court-watchers call the most expensive state Supreme Court race in U.S. history, topping $15 million, gives Democrats majority control of the seven-member court beginning in January.
November 5, 2015 |
On an exquisitely pleasant first Tuesday in November, Pennsylvanians were making history by filling three Supreme Court seats, along with picking a mayor for the nation's fifth-largest city; county prosecutors; assorted judges; and a variety of key county and municipal officials. But despite a promising turnout by the Election Day sun from Lake Erie to the Delaware River, it appeared that a healthy majority of those eligible to vote were not exercising that right. In Center City, lunch lines were 20 deep at Chipotle and Popeyes, but there was no wait to vote at the polling place around the corner at the Land Title building on Broad and Chestnut Streets.