The judge is being relived of his duties on an “interim basis” as the result of three different controversies.
The first is the allegation that McCaffery improperly interfered with a traffic court hearing for his wife. There are also other contentions that the judge’s wife accepted fees for outside work while employed as his assistant and that he may have tried to influence an appointment to a Philadelphia common pleas court.
The latter two allegations concerned the recent email scandal. First, that the Justice received and sent hundreds of these emails and that he threatened Justice Eakin that similar emails would be released if Eakin convince Chief Justice Castille to back off from his investigation.
The Judicial Conduct Board has thirty days to determine what action to take concerning these allegations.
Particularly noteworthy is the vehement opinion of Chief Justice Castille. As has been documented, the two judges have been in a long-time feud. For instance, McCaffery resents that Castille gets to appoint the Philadelphia positions and Castille has expressed personal distaste for his fellow judge.
As a result, the Chief Justice’s opinion should not be too surprising. Still, the venom contained in it towards Justice McCaffery necessitates that it be heavily quoted:
“It would be impossible for this Court to function effectively while Justice McCaffery sits on this Court. His so-called “lapse in judgment” lasted, at least, for many years as an adult. It is more than a lapse in judgment – it has caused unmitigated turmoil in the justice system and has indirectly cost several state prosecutors and high ranking state officials their public careers. At least several of those individuals have had the decency to resign, whereas the instigator of the pornographic emails still draws a taxpayer’s salary.”
“Justice McCaffery by his comments fails to acknowledge the significance of his “lapse” and blames others for this “lapse of judgment.” He blames the US Marine Corps for coarse language and crude jokes. He blames the US Air Force for the same conduct, even though a Reserve Colonel in the Air Force would have been court martialed for similar conduct. He blames the Philadelphia Police Department for the same, although the Police Department would never condone this type of misogynistic behavior. Finally, Justice McCaffery blames me for what he deems a “cooked up controversy” when, in fact, he was the originator of the emails sent to a government agency, and the emails were then made public by the Attorney General’s Office. This Court and I had no idea whatsoever that Justice McCaffery was using court equipment to forward this material – we do not monitor a Justice’s email. This alleged “cooked up controversy” has cost the careers of others and perhaps even several marriages. As importantly, Justice McCaffery’s conduct has brought this Court into enormous disrepute.”
“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.”
Justice Debra Todd filed a lone dissenting opinion.
Update: Justice McCaffery released the following statement:
“Today’s action against Justice McCaffery should surprise no one, given Chief Justice Castille’s relentless crusade to destroy his career and reputation. We will continue in our efforts to expose the malicious intent behind this effort to take down Justice McCaffery. We are confident that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to the bench soon.”