The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended Justice Seamus P. McCaffery amid allegations that he sent pornographic e-mails and threatened to entangle a fellow justice in the widening scandal after vowing not to go “down alone.”
In a sharply worded order, four of the seven justices, citing an “immediate need” to protect the integrity of the state’s courts, suspended McCaffery with pay on “an interim basis” from his $200,205-a-year job.
The court also ordered the state’s Judicial Conduct Board to determine within 30 days if there is probable cause to file formal misconduct charges against the justice. The board handles judicial ethics complaints and has launched an investigation into McCaffery’s e-mails.
“In my two decades of experience on this court, no other justice . . . has done as much to bring the Supreme Court into disrepute,” Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille wrote in a statement released with the order. “No other justice has failed to live up to the high ethical demands required of a justice of this court or has been the constant focus of ethical lapses to the degree of Justice McCaffery.”
McCaffery, 64, a former Marine and Philadelphia police officer, has apologized for sending sexually explicit e-mails, saying crude language and jokes were part of the vernacular of military and law enforcement. But he has described the messages as personal and private e-mails among friends, while condemning Castille, a longtime rival, for what he called a “vindictive pattern of attacks” against him, including the push for his suspension.