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Politics & Government

PA High Court Defers Email Probe To Ethics Panel

Daniel Shanken
AP File Photo

  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is deferring action on whether one of its justices violated conduct rules by sending and receiving explicit emails.

The court issued a statement Monday that left judgment to the Judicial Conduct Board based on the recommendation of a law firm it hired to review the email scandal surrounding Justice Michael Eakin.

The firm was hired a month ago, after Attorney General Kathleen Kane submitted 955 emails that her office flagged.

Kane said Eakin received racially offensive messages and misogynistic pornography through a private email account under a pseudonym. The emails reviewed include photos of nude or topless women and “purported jokes that are insensitive and would be offensive to women, African-Americans, immigrants and other groups.”

The law firm said that among the hundreds of emails, Eakin sent 157, and received or forwarded many more. At least one employee of Kane’s office was included as a recipient of each email reviewed by the Supreme Court’s hired firm.

Eakin's lawyer, his wife Heidi Eakin, said they agree with the conclusion, but complain that her husband didn't get a chance to give his side.

Eakin has apologized for the emails and said their content is not a reflection of his “character or beliefs.”

The Supreme Court’s hired firm has said the emails handed over this year differ in part from justices’ questionable messages handed over by the attorney general last year. That review led the high court to take action, forcing the resignation of former justice Seamus McCaffery.

The court’s hired firm concluded that the McCaffery situation was different, involving “far broader” misconduct than the allegations against Eakin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.