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NEWS
October 19, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
A skirmish between two rival Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices over pornographic e-mails erupted Friday into a full-court brawl, with a third justice stopping just short of lobbing blackmail accusations, and other colleagues fretting that the fighting had begun to erode the public's confidence in the bench. Responding to reports that he had received racist and pornographic content on a private e-mail account, Justice J. Michael Eakin said he never viewed those messages and accused another colleague caught up in the scandal, Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, of threatening to leak them to the media.
NEWS
October 18, 2014 | Inquirer Editorial Board
State Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery's invective-laced apology for sending pornographic e-mails only makes it more urgent to resolve his status on the bench as soon as possible. The backhanded apology, which had the audacity to question whether he "offended anyone" by sending or receiving more than 230 sexually explicit e-mails, criticized Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille for creating a "cooked-up controversy. " The jurists' antagonism is disturbing enough, but that a Supreme Court justice thought nothing of e-mailing porn destroys public trust.
NEWS
October 17, 2014
A DRAMATIC evolution has occurred on the issue of gay marriage, both at the Supreme Court and among the public. Some opponents of the court's decision last week not to uphold state bans on gay marriage are calling it a disaster, even comparing it to the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision of 1857. In fact, it is the opposite. Gay marriage means more freedom for individuals and less intrusion of government into the home. As a nation, we are simply applying our fundamental American principles of liberty to the present day. We should be skeptical and cautious of judicial activism, but the Dred Scott decision - which held that a slave was property and not an American with rights - is an example of the court trying to artificially freeze the social and moral development of the nation.
NEWS
October 11, 2014 | By Angela Couloumbis and Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writers
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's Judicial Conduct Board will investigate a complaint that Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery may have violated ethics rules if he sent sexually explicit e-mails from his personal account to a state employee, according to a letter from the board. In the Tuesday letter, the board agreed to "conduct an inquiry into the matters" raised in a complaint filed last week by Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp. In his Oct. 2 complaint, Stilp cited news accounts that McCaffery in 2008 and 2009 sent e-mails containing pornographic content to an agent in the state Attorney General's Office.
NEWS
October 10, 2014
ISSUE | GAY UNIONS Courts proper venue In the wake of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, I have little doubt we will be treated to cries that the people should decide such an issue ("Court sends clear signal to states," Oct. 7). But should we really put equality up for a vote? Did racial segregation fall as a result of a vote? The courts are designed to protect all citizens and ensure that constitutional rights are accorded to everyone. That's what happened Tuesday.
NEWS
September 26, 2014 | BY MENSAH M. DEAN, Daily News Staff Writer deanm@phillynews.com, 215-568-8278
A SPOKESMAN for the court system said that despite the suspensions of two Philadelphia Municipal judges yesterday and the abrupt resignation of another city judge Tuesday, the work of the court will carry on uninterrupted. "We have senior judges who fill in for vacancies in circumstances like this," Jim Kovall, spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, said yesterday. It still is not clear who exactly would be taking over the case loads of suspended judges Joseph J. O'Neill and Dawn Segal, and those of former Municipal Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr., because Philadelphia Municipal Court President Judge Marsha Neifield was unavailable for comment.
NEWS
September 11, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
An attorney for a Philadelphia charter school urged the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule that the School Reform Commission overstepped its authority when it suspended parts of the state school code to cap charter-school enrollment. Robert W. O'Donnell, the lawyer, also argued that the 1998 law that led to the takeover of city schools violates the state constitution because it allows the SRC to suspend parts of the code "at will" without providing any standards to guide the suspensions.
NEWS
August 20, 2014 | BY MENSAH M. DEAN, Daily News Staff Writer deanm@phillynews.com, 215-568-8278
PHILLY-BORN rapper Meek Mill, aided by three lawyers and a courtroom full of supporters, yesterday failed to persuade a judge to release him from jail early. That means the summertime blues will continue for the "Amen" rapper, who was sentenced July 11 to serve three to six months in jail for violating terms of his probation, which stems from a 2008 drug-and-gun conviction. Not only did Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley reject every argument proffered on behalf of the rapper born Robert Williams, she and his lead attorney got into a testy exchange over the lawyer's belief that the judge was being disrespectful and rushing him along so that she could officiate at a wedding.
BUSINESS
July 27, 2014 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld lower-court decisions that a murder-suicide in a home does not create a material defect and therefore does not need to be legally disclosed by a seller to a potential buyer. The Supreme Court considered an appeal, argued in November, of a Delaware County Court decision, upheld by Superior Court, that had dismissed a complaint in 2008 by Janet Milliken of Thornbury against the sellers and the listing agent of a house she bought for $610,000 in 2007.
NEWS
July 25, 2014 | By Craig R. McCoy, Inquirer Staff Writer
For decades, irate prosecutors have pursued corruption in Philadelphia Traffic Court and won significant convictions - only to have ticket-fixing become standard practice once again. But this time around, even with Wednesday's mixed verdict in the latest Traffic Court trial, reform may be too advanced to stop. Of course, it helps that Traffic Court no longer exists. "The reforms have been implemented and are in practice as we speak," said Deputy District Attorney Laurie Malone, who oversees a new team of city prosecutors handling ticket cases.
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