Former Pa. Supreme Court judge says chief justice accused her of having ‘minority agenda’

Cynthia Baldwin, the second Black woman to serve on the Pa. Supreme Court, says Chief Justice Thomas Saylor treated her unfairly in disciplinary proceedings.

Pennsylvania Chief Justice Thomas Saylor. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania Chief Justice Thomas Saylor. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A day after she was formally disciplined for the way she represented Penn State officials during Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse trial, former state Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Baldwin has released an affidavit saying Chief Justice Thomas Saylor inappropriately retaliated against her.

According to the affidavit, Saylor told another judge that Baldwin, who is Black, had a troublesome “minority agenda.”

The affidavit dates to last year, and is signed by Former Common Pleas Court Judge Barry Feudale.

The actual incident it describes happened in 2012, when Feudale was supervising a grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky.

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Feudale writes that Chief Justice Saylor approached him at a conference, arranged a private meeting, and said he wanted Feudale to assist with and provide information for a disciplinary investigation into Baldwin, who was then representing both Penn State and several of its administrators in the Sandusky case.

Saylor then reportedly said Baldwin had “caused us a lot of trouble when she was on the Supreme Court with her minority agenda.”

Feudale writes that he had felt the circumstances of this meeting were surprising and “odd,” and that he was “stunned” by what he saw as Saylor’s potential breach of grand jury secrecy.

Saylor told the Philadelphia Inquirer the allegations in the affidavit are “false and offensive.”

The decision by the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court to formally reprimand Baldwin on Wednesday came after years of back-and-forth over whether her conduct as both the attorney for Penn State, and for high-profile administrators who were later charged in the case, was appropriate.

The Board said she had provided incompetent counsel to three Penn State administrators, which made it impossible to prosecute them on charges of obstruction of justice, related conspiracy and perjury.

Therefore, they decided, her conduct was “prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule of Professional Conduct.”

The only discipline Baldwin — who is now retired — faced was public censure.

Saylor, a Republican, sits on the Disciplinary Board along with the rest of the state Supreme Court. He recused himself from the decision on Baldwin, along with Justices Max Baer and Debra McCloskey Todd.   

Baldwin, who is a Democrat, served on the court in 2007 and 2008. She was the second Black woman to sit on Pennsylvania’s highest court.

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