Pa. ethics board files charges against Supreme Court Justice Eakin

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board has filed ethics charges in the Court of Judicial Discipline against state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin.

A complaint filed Tuesday says Eakin acted in a manner that detracted from the dignity of his office, and he engaged in conduct “so extreme that it brought the judicial office into disrepute.”

The charges could result in a reprimand, suspension, or his removal from office.

The board had been examining emails Eakin exchanged with friends from his private Yahoo email account, including a deputy in the attorney general’s office.

According to the complaint, the emails contained photographs of nude and semi-nude women and sexually suggestive themes. Others included jokes offensive to women and people of certain races, religions, and sexual preferences.

Eakin is accused of violating four rules, including one that directs judges to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all their activities.

In a statement, he said: “Consideration of the ramifications of my private emails by the Court of Judicial Discipline, as indicated in my previous offer to expedite such consideration, brings the opportunity for transparency of process, based on the actual facts and not speculation and mischaracterization. As such, I welcome it. I have cooperated with candor and openness, and will continue to do so as the constitutional process goes forward.”

Eakin is a Mechanicsburg native and former Cumberland County district attorney. He apologized in October, saying the emails do not reflect his character or beliefs.

The ethics board investigated and cleared Eakin last year after he reported that another state Supreme Court justice, Seamus McCaffery, threatened to implicate him when McCaffery was linked to hundreds of sexually explicit and pornographic emails.

McCaffery resigned after the board suspended him in October 2014.

The emails were uncovered during Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s internal review of the handling of the Jerry Sandusky case. Kane’s office said the emails were on office computer servers because the staff member had sent or received them.

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