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Monday, October 20, 2014

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Votes to Suspend Justice McCaffery

Dave Hoffman at Concurring Opinions writes that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has voted to suspend Justice Seamus McCaffery. At How Appealing, Howard Bashman has links to further coverage. The per curiam opinion of the court cites numerous scandals -- including allegations that Justice McCaffery improperly contacted a traffic court judge over a traffic citation issued to Justice McCaffery's wife, claims that Justice McCaffery and his wife improperly gathered referral fees through Justice McCaffery's official capacity, and a recent scandal involving a vast exchange of sexually explicit emails between Justice McCaffery and people at the office of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.

Meanwhile, an ethics investigation of Justice McCaffery will move forward. Justice Todd dissented from the Court taking an active role in the matter.

The bottom of the per curiam opinion indicates that Chief Justice Castille wrote a concurring opinion. That opinion is available here, and it is merciless and unlike any opinion I have ever read. I cannot do justice to the opinion with descriptive terms, so I conclude this post with the parts of the opinion that I found particularly noteworthy (though I recommend you read the entire thing):

Justice McCaffery blames me for a series of egregious acts of misconduct on his part. However, it was not I who caused his wife to be cited for driving the wrong way on Market Street. It was not I who caused Justice McCaffery to meet with the main Philadelphia Traffic Court ticket fixer, an admitted felon, to “discuss” his wife’s ticket which was then dismissed by a Traffic Court judge who later pled guilty to federal crimes arising from ticket fixing. It was not I who subpoenaed his wife’s traffic ticket file which was then officially brought to my attention as part of the review of Philadelphia Traffic Court – that was the work of the FBI. It was not I who gave his wife, a Supreme Court employee, permission to run a law practice out of a Supreme Court chambers, earning millions of dollars. It was not I who referred that matter to the US Attorney’s Office. It was not I, but it was Justice McCaffery, who hired Chadwick Associates to assist in reforming Philadelphia’s criminal courts and who was lawfully compensated for his services to the Philadelphia Court system for his professional work. 
. . . 

Justice McCaffery is correct in one of his allegations against me. I have been attempting to remove Justice McCaffery from this Court. In my two decades of experience on this Court, no other Justice, including Justice Joan Orie Melvin, has done as much to bring the Supreme Court into disrepute. No other Justice has failed to live up to the high ethical demands required of a Justice of this Court or has been the constant focus of ethical lapses to the degree of Justice McCaffery. 
. . .  
As a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I often had the occasion to review pre-sentence psychiatric reports, although I do not claim to be an expert in the field. One pathology that I do recall, and as confirmed in a review of a prominent medical journal, describes the pathology of an individual who has the personality traits of not caring about others, thinking he or she can do whatever is in that person’s own self-interest and having little or no sympathy for others. The most telling pathology is that when that person is caught, or called out for his transgressions, that person does not accept blame but instead blames others for his or her own misconduct. Those pathological symptoms describe a sociopath. So far in the blame game, Justice McCaffery has blamed the US Marine Corps, the US Air Force, the Philadelphia Police Department, Chadwick Associates, the US Attorney and the FBI, Attorney General Kathleen Kane, now Justice Michael Eakin, and myself for the consequences arising from actions all initiated by him, but thought by him to be of little consequence: just a few “cooked up controversies” by his perceived tormentors. 

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