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.”