Eakin suspended while 'porngate' case proceeds

Written by Dave Davies/WHYY | Dec 22, 2015 4:46 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

(Undated) --  State Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin is off the bench, while he fights misconduct charges stemming from raunchy email he traded.

The so-called "porngate scandal" has ended the careers of several public officials who traded porn on their government computers.

Eakin is accused of receiving dozens of pornographic and racially insensitive emails on a private email account, and sending some to others. He used a Yahoo account with a pseudonym, but his email became public because some of his digital partners used government email servers.

He faces a trial before the state Court of Judicial Discipline, which has now suspended him from the bench -- with pay -- until his case is resolved.

The state Court of Judicial Discipline enforces sanctions against judges in the state, and issued the  suspension late Tuesday, the day after Eakin apologized for the emails in a lengthy hearing in Easton.

The three-judge panel called his emails "insensitive and inappropriate toward matters involving regarding gender, race, sexual orientation and ethnicity."

A 52-page complaint filed against Eakin earlier this month by the state Judicial Conduct Board gave detailed descriptions of his sexually explicit email, which it said detracts from the dignity of the court and undermines public confidence in the judiciary.

The emails were provided to disciplinary authorities by Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who discovered them in a review of the Sandusky child abuse case. She's since appointed a special prosecutor to review more than a million emails traded by government employees.

Though Eakin apologized for the email at the hearing Monday, he said his conduct was legal, private, and unrelated to his duties on the court.

Eakin's trial will be public.

No date has been set.

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