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Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice resigns over e-mail scandal

[JURIST] A second Pennsylvania Supreme Court [official website] justice resigned Tuesday over of a growing scandal that involves hundreds of offensive e-mails. Justice Michael Eakin is the second justice to retire after Justice Seamus McCaffery retired immediately after being suspended in 2014 when Attorney General Kathleen Kane released a plethora of questionable e-mails to the media. Eakin's lawyer, Bill Costopoulos, stated [AP report] that the trial against Eakin for ethical violations, which was scheduled to start in two weeks, will not go forward, as Eakin is pleading guilty to the allegations. Although Eakin was clear when McCaffery retired, he came under fire again when Kane began releasing more e-mails last year. Kane was criminally charged [JURIST report] in August for allegedly leaking grand jury documents to the media to embarrass a critic, and then giving false testimony to a grand jury in order to cover up her actions. Kane claims that this is in response to taking on the Pennsylvania judiciary and law enforcement which, in her view, is male-dominated.

The e-mails involved [PennLive report] in the scandal are sexually and racially offensive in nature. Examples include a satirical video about a busload of "sluts" crashing, "sexually suggestive thread/conversation" about one of Eakin's female employees and a joke about Tiger Woods that referred to his African-American and Asian background. Eakin had argued before a three-judge panel in 2014 that although he was devastated that he allowed such a thing to happen, it had not affected his job performance whatsoever. Subsequently, Kane's law license has not been reinstated [JURIST report], after a vote that included Eakin in February of this year. Kane argued Eakin should have been prevented from taking part in the vote to suspend her license, due to connections to an email scandal. The court found that Kane failed to seek Eakin's recusal "at the earliest possible time," leaving her unable to object to the court's unanimous September decision at this time.

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