Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Will the Court of Judicial Discipline Restore Public Confidence in the Judiciary on March 29th?



On February 7, Inquirer reporter Mark Fazollah reported another attempt to protect the old boy network from the consequences of their actions. The Court of Judicial Discipline, currently investigating whether Judge Eakin should be disciplined for sending misogynistic, racist emails, tried to enlist attorney Richard A. Sprague to broker a deal that could forestall a public trial.

When former Supreme Court Justice McCaffery retired two years ago, he did so as part of a secret deal which ended the investigation of his role in the email scandal and allowed him to keep his pension.

Fortunately, this time there was pushback from at least some members of the legal community. According to the Inquirer report:

Bruce Ledewitz, a law professor at Duquesne University and expert on the state Supreme Court, said he saw a role for mediators in labor disputes or divorces - but not in cases where judges stand accused of wrongdoing.

He compared the tribunal's action to a judge in a criminal case asking someone to help broker a deal.

"Imagine if a guy is on trial for murder and you bring in a mediator," Ledewitz said...

Lynn A. Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts told the Inquirer, "The public is entitled to hear the facts and the arguments discussed openly.. .Public confidence in the integrity of the courts will not be strengthened by a private deal."

Fortunately, the court has backed away from its plan to broker a deal and Eakin will go on trial before the state's Judicial Ethics court on March 29 in a Philadelphia City Hall courtroom late next month. According to the Inquirer, the Judicial Court said “the trial will take place in a " ‘high tech-equipped courtroom’" in which the emails in question can be shown on a video screen."

Citizen confidence in our judiciary hangs in the balance.

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