Ex-Justice Eakin is Fined, Can Keep His Pension

Pennsylvania’s Court of Judicial Discipline concluded that former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin undermined public confidence in the judiciary. It fined him $50,000 in an ethics case arising from lewd emails, and permitted him to keep a $153,000 annual pension, The Allentown Morning Call reported.

“The common thread of the emails — with their imagery of sexism, racism and bigotry — is arrogance,” the discipline tribunal said. However, any bias reflected in the emails did not permeate his judicial opinions, it said. Eakin resigned recently, and his stepping down enabled him to avoid a public trial.

Eakin is the second justice to leave the court amid the email scandal, a series of events that has ignited calls and legislation for Pennsylvania to scrap its system for electing top judges and turn to a merit-based system for appointing them. “There is a need to reform the judicial system,” state Sen. Anthony Williams, a Democrat, said this week. “The general public is no longer confident of those who sit in judgment of others.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported regarding a ballot measure to come before voters on April 26, “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Turns Down Request to Tweak Constitutional Amendment on Judges’ Mandatory Retirement Age.”