‘Porngate’ charges against Pa. high court judge

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 In 2011, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin poses for photographs with the court's other justices at Philadelphia's historic Old City Hall. A Pennsylvania ethics board is accusing Eakin of violating both judicial and constitutional codes of conduct by exchanging lewd and offensive emails with friends. The Judicial Conduct Board has filed four charges with a disciplinary court that has the power to remove judges. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, File)

In 2011, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin poses for photographs with the court's other justices at Philadelphia's historic Old City Hall. A Pennsylvania ethics board is accusing Eakin of violating both judicial and constitutional codes of conduct by exchanging lewd and offensive emails with friends. The Judicial Conduct Board has filed four charges with a disciplinary court that has the power to remove judges. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, File)

The “porngate” scandal involving emails traded among Pennsylvania state officials has resulted in formal misconduct charge against state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin.

In a 51-page complaint, the state Judicial Conduct Board lists scores of emails traded by Eakin. Some describe jokes titled “golf panties,” and “man rules.” Many are pornographic, and some have racist and homophobic messages.

You can read the entire complaint here.

The email traffic was uncovered in a review  of the Sandusky child abuse investigation authorized by state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The Judicial Conduct Board says the emails show Eakin violated the code of judicial conduct by detracting from the dignity of his office and failing to act in a manner promoting public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

Next comes a trial in the Court of Judicial Discipline, which could lead to Eakin’s exoneration, a reprimand, suspension or removal from office.

In a statement, Eakin said he welcomes a review based on “actual facts, not speculation and mischaracterization” of his actions.

Gov. Tom Wolf has called for Eakin to resign, both because of the offensive email and allegations in a weekend story by the Philadelphia Inquirer that Eakin participated in an effort to appoint someone to the Court of Judicial Discipline who might act in his interest.

The trial before the Court of Judicial Discipline will be open to the public. Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts released the following statement on the charges:

“Moving forward, it is essential that everyone involved in this judicial discipline proceeding go above and beyond to ensure the process has no whiff of conflict of interest or impropriety. Anyone on the Court of Judicial Discipline who could be publically viewed as having a conflict of interest should recuse him or herself immediately, regardless of whether they believe they are capable of issuing an unbiased decision. Otherwise, the public will view this process as a sham.”

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