McCaffery resigns from Supreme Court amidst scandal

Seamus McCaffery

Seamus McCaffery, of Bustleton, resigned on Monday from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after being suspended for forwarding sexually explicit emails from a personal account to others, including employees of the state attorney general’s office.

In addition, Justice Michael Eakin charged that McCaffery threatened to leak pornographic and racists emails that were sent to Eakin’s personal account, unless he lobbied Chief Justice Ron Castille to retract negative statements made about McCaffery as it related to the email issue.

The Supreme Court on Oct. 20 voted 4–1 to suspend McCaffery with pay.

Castille, of Rhawnhurst, issued a scathing concurrent statement against his longtime rival.

The state’s Judicial Conduct Board was to determine by Nov. 19 whether there was probable cause to file formal misconduct charges.

Frank Keel, a spokesman for McCaffery, reacted after the suspension was announced, saying Castille was on a “relentless crusade” to destroy McCaffery’s career and reputation.

“We are confident that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to the bench soon,” Keel said at the time.

Earlier, McCaffery issued a statement recalling that coarse language and crude jokes permeated the ranks of the U.S. Marine Corps and Philadelphia Police Department, in which he served.

“That’s not an excuse, just a fact. Unfortunately, personal, private emails between me and some longtime friends were never meant to be viewed by anyone else, but they were. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment. I erred and if I offended anyone, I am truly sorry. I spent 20 years in the Philadelphia Police Department without incident. I served 10 years as a trial judge and four years on the Superior Court without incident. And I spent 40 years serving our nation, first as a United States Marine and then as a United States Air Force Reservist, retiring as a full colonel — 40 years without a blemish. Yet, since being elected to the Supreme Court in 2007, I have had to cope with one incident after another. Why?”

McCaffery described the saga as a “cooked-up controversy.” He charged that Castille, a former Philadelphia district attorney, was on an “egomaniacal mission” to “get me.”

In Castille’s statement, he explained that some of the emails forwarded by McCaffery were especially vulgar, and that they have caused the Supreme Court to be held up to public ridicule.

“Justice McCaffery’s conduct has brought this Court into enormous disrepute,” Castille said. “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 (convicted of using judicial staff for campaign work), has done as much to bring the Supreme Court into disrepute.”

Justice Debra Todd voted against suspending McCaffery.

“Based upon unvetted claims and allegations, a majority of our Court, one of whom is deeply involved in this controversy, has suspended a fellow Justice. No independent investigative body has made any findings regarding merits or credibility, and, unlike the suspension of Justice Joan Orie Melvin, no formal criminal proceedings have been instituted.

“Every day, this Court is charged with according due process to litigants, and we faithfully carry out that constitutional obligation. Even a Justice is entitled to due process,” she wrote in a dissenting statement. ••