State Judges

Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffreyA few weeks ago, Pennsylvania learned that its justice system spends all its time trading porn over the Internet when it isn’t taking kickbacks for wrongfully jailing children. This all came to light as part of the ongoing investigation into Why-Did-None-of-You-Do-Anything-About-Jerry-Sanduskygate because of course it did. You can’t be expected to do anything about an inveterate child molester when you’ve got one hand… well, doing other things.

The investigation found its way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where Justice Seamus McCaffrey received around 60 of these emails and forwarded at least 8 to someone at the AG’s office.

As of yesterday, Justice McCaffrey is temporarily out of a job courtesy of a salacious Per Curiam Order denouncing the alleged traffic in “highly demeaning portrayals of members of various segments of the population, including women, elderly persons, and uniformed school girls.”

Perfect. And it turns out trading porn is the least of the allegations against Justice McCaffrey….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Court Kicks Supreme Court Justice To Curb In ‘Porngate’ Decision”

'Why is your keyboard so sticky, Your Honor?'

‘Why is your keyboard so sticky, Your Honor?’

Earlier this month, news of the Pennsylvania “porngate” scandal spread like wildfire. Hundreds of pornographic and racy emails were exchanged between government employees and officials from 2008 to 2012, and when the public found out that a state supreme court justice was involved, the situation grew even stickier.

When Seamus McCaffery, the judge in question, was initially fingered in the investigation, he wasn’t interested in speaking to the media. “Not only do I not have any comment,” he said, “but since when does the news media pry into personal emails?” When a judge’s personal emails to prosecutors and judges include graphic pictures and videos of salacious sex acts, everyone wants a peek.

Needless to say, Chief Justice Ron Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is pissed, and he’s taken to the presses to condemn his colleague — not only because he didn’t get to play in McCaffery’s sexy reindeer games, but because McCaffery’s actions have cast a “cloud over all of the courts.”

In response to Castille’s comments on the situation, McCaffery has issued a response. He may be sorry about the porn, but he’s definitely not sorry that he’s calling out Castille on his judicial douchebaggery…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judges Are At Each Other’s Throats Over ‘Porngate’ Scandal”

This stock photo of a leather-clad woman motorcyclist is topical rather than gratuitous, we’re sorry to say.

Isn’t it nice when appellate courts hear oral argument at law schools? It’s great for bench-bar relations for the judges to leave their marble palace and spend some time with the legal community. It’s great for law students to see what real-world litigation looks like without having to leave campus. It’s generally a win-win situation for all involved.

But a recent calendar at a New York law school didn’t go so smoothly. The legal profession has a sexism problem, but there’s no need for judges to demonstrate it by directing sleazy quips at women lawyers arguing before them….

(Please note the UPDATE, featuring the identity of the judge in question.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Law School Dean Turns A Judge’s Sexist Snafu Into A Teachable Moment”


– Signs found taped to a window near York County Magisterial District Court Judge Ronald J. Haskell’s courtroom in York, Pennsylvania.

(What could have happened to necessitate these signs being posted?)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Court Shockingly Refuses To Accept Money From Defendants’ Disgusting Underwear”

Justice Joan Orie Melvin

* How are Nevada and Idaho officials reacting to yesterday’s Ninth Circuit ruling striking down gay marriage bans in those states, and how soon might marriages get underway? [BuzzFeed]

* In other LGBT legal news, New York City is likely to make it easier for transgender individuals to amend their birth certificates. [New York Times]

* Good news for Joan Orie Melvin, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice turned convicted felon: her unorthodox sentence has been stayed (again). [How Appealing]

* Eduardo Leite, who has led Baker & McKenzie since 2010, gets another two years at the helm of Biglaw’s biggest firm. [American Lawyer]

* Cravath associate Micaela McMurrough scores a victory in tax court for artists. [New York Times]

* The ABA has issued a new opinion addressing ethical issues raised during the sale of a law practice. [American Bar Association]

* Why do lawyers blog? Tim Baran of Rocket Matter talks to 23 of us. [Legal Productivity]

‘Why is your keyboard so sticky, Your Honor?’

The scandalous “porngate” controversy has been brewing for a while now in Pennsylvania. If you’re not familiar with what happened, it seems that hundreds of pornographic and racy emails were exchanged between dozens of state government employees and officials from 2008 to 2012. The vast majority of those emails were sent or read on state email accounts. Thus far, the names of eight former employees of the attorney general’s office have been released as being involved in the erotic email exchange, and two people have already resigned from their positions.

Late last week, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court demanded information on whether any of the justices seated on his bench had taken part in any of the sexy email swaps. Days later, we now know that at least one of the justices may have been improperly banging his gavel alongside state officials.

Which justice allegedly traded sexually explicit emails with his colleagues?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Justice Involved In ‘Porngate’ Scandal”

There is something admittedly odd about judges on Twitter. The stereotypical judge is stuffy, technologically challenged, and light on personality. Twitter, in contrast, is informal, tech-driven, and brimming over with quirkiness and individuality.

There are, to be sure, virtues to the traditional vision of the judge (well, maybe not the lack of tech savvy, but the other attributes). Judges who are formal, dry, and tight-lipped off the bench convey a strong sense of objectivity to the public and to the litigants who appear before them. These judges might not have much personality, but presumably they don’t have personal biases that would interfere with the impartial administration of justice. You might not want to have a beer with such judges, but you would want them handling your case.

So judicial tweeting might be unusual. Does that make it problematic? Should we have new judicial ethics rules to rein in judges on social media?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judges On Twitter: Is This A Problem?”

She’s not a porn star, she’s a law student. We could see where you might be confused by that one.

* Now that we know Eric Holder is resigning, there’s been speculation as to where he’ll go next. The obvious choice is a return to Covington & Burling, but he could still surprise everyone. [National Law Journal]

* “Judicial campaign cash is burning a hole in the Constitution.” State court judges are pumping money into their election campaigns, and some have been left to wonder about its true price. [New York Times]

* Details have emerged as to conditions that must be met for Bingham McCutchen’s proposed merger with Morgan Lewis: partner promises, de-equitizations, and forgivable loans, oh my! [Reuters (sub. req.)]

* In the wake of Dean Makau Mutua’s decision to step down at Buffalo Law, a “deep rift” among faculty has been brought to light. The school’s future doesn’t seem as “bright” as we were once told. [Buffalo News]

* A former law student who was falsely identified as a porn star on the radio had her day in court and pulled out a win. Here’s the money shot: she’s walking away with $1 million in damages. [Kansas City Star]

Judge Emily Dean

Here at Above the Law, we write about judges who bring shame to the judiciary all the time, but the subject of today’s foray into judicial misconduct is a wicked pisser — literally. We know things must get boring out in flyover country, Iowa specifically, but this is just crazy (and sad, but mostly crazy).

Let’s meet a judge who once got so wasted as she attempted to report to work at the courthouse that she later spent three days in an intensive care unit for severe alcohol intoxication…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Punished For Going To Court Drunk, Peeing In The Street”

For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint.

– Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann, quoting Walter Sobchak in a footnote to Kinney v. Barnes (full disclosure: Kinney is an Above the Law advertiser, while Barnes is… well, this guy). While the movie may seem like a surprising citation for the conservative Texas bench, in their defense, Walter is a gun-toting crazy man so he blends in with a lot of their jurisprudence.

Page 1 of 4912345...49