Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lawmakers propose sweeping judicial discipline reform in wake of email scandal

Pennsylvania lawmakers have proposed sweeping judicial discipline reform in the wake of the email scandal that has led to the departure of two state Supreme Court justices.

"The email conduct plus the direction the court has taken with regard to judicial discipline shows that it's legal fiction to consider them less fallible to failure and equally blind to their own prejudices and mistakes," said Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks County.

Last week, J. Michael Eakin became the second justice — following Seamus McCaffery — to step down over involvement in an exchange of lewd and offensive emails that included judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The Judicial Conduct Board (JCB), which investigated his involvement, has since asked for one of the misconduct charges against Eakin to be dropped in the Court of Judicial Discipline (CJD).

An earlier deal between Eakin and the JCB, which serves as prosecutor in the case, was rebuffed by the court, which can hand down various sanctions, including a ruling that could trigger the automatic forfeiture of Eakin's pension.

In recent years, the handling of the email scandal has brought renewed scrutiny of the entire process, with Schwank and other court observers saying it's problematic for the court to be involved in selecting individuals who could end up disciplining its members.

Schwank said that exchange has also called into question the ability of ordinary citizens to get a fair hearing across the state.

"If you're a woman, a minority (or) LGBT, these emails reveal just how so many people charged with protecting you and your interests view you and talk about you in private," she said.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Lawmakers propose sweeping judicial discipline reform in wake of email scandal

No comments: