Pa. high court to conduct second review of Eakin emails

    Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court is conducting its second review in as many years of potentially inappropriate emails exchanged by one of its sitting justices, Michael Eakin.

    In a statement released Monday, the court said the follow-up investigation is necessary because Attorney General Kathleen Kane didn’t turn over all pertinent messages during a review last year.

    At that time, Kane’s office had flagged lewd emails exchanged with employees of the Office of Attorney General between 2008 and 2012. Her office’s spokesman said the entire universe of inappropriate emails went beyond that time frame.

    “An internal office review expanded that search to include 2013 and 2014 and found an additional hundred or so emails,” said spokesman Chuck Ardo.

    The court maintains that it asked Kane’s office for all questionable emails involving state judges.

    Robert Byer, the special counsel hired to do the court’s 2014 review, concluded that Eakin had neither sent nor forwarded any improper messages, even if he had received inappropriate material. The same review found that former Justice Seamus McCaffery of Philadelphia had sent pornographic messages, leading to his suspension and resignation.

    For this latest inquiry, the Supreme Court has asked a Pittsburgh law firm of attorney Joseph Del Sole to look over newly available emails.

    Del Sole’s firm was hired within days of Kane’s Oct. 1 revelation that she had evidence Eakin exchanged pornography with employees of her office. A week later, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Eakin had sent or received messages offensive to women, black people, and LGBT people.

    Kane announced she had dirt on Eakin the same day prosecutors charged her with additional criminal counts of perjury and other offenses. Kane is accused of sharing confidential investigative material with a newspaper and attempting a cover-up. She was first charged by Montgomery County prosecutors in August.

    On Friday, the Judicial Conduct Board announced it had started a new investigation into Eakin’s emails – those sent or received by his state account, as well as a Yahoo inbox held by Eakin under the pseudonym “John Smith.”

    In a written statement, chief counsel Robert Graci said the board had dismissed complaints against Eakin last year after an investigation, but that “recent revelations … demonstrate that the Board was not provided with all of the information on the Attorney General’s servers relating to that account.”

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