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December 22, 2015

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Eakin suspended because of Porngate emails

Order says judge has 'tainted' the state's court system with his actions

Porngate Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin Matt Rourke, File/AP Photo

This Sept. 13, 2011, file photo shows Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin at Philadelphia's historic Old City Hall.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin has been suspended because emails he sent and received as part of the state's ongoing Porngate scandal have "tainted the Pennsylvania judiciary in the eyes of the public," a scathing court order issued Tuesday afternoon said.

The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline ordered Eakin's suspension, effective immediately with pay and medical benefits. The decision follows a hearing on Monday, during which the state supreme court justice admitted sending and receiving the controversial emails, which among other material, contained lewd references to judicial employees.

"The emails demonstrate that Justice Eakin participated in a pattern of not only receiving emails which were insensitive and inappropriate toward matters involving gender, race, sexual orientation, and ethnicity but also sending and forwarding a number of such emails," the judicial discipline court's order read.

RELATED CONTENT: Read the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline's order here

The court cited email exchanges between Eakin and Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Baxter as being "of particular concern."

In two of those exchanges, Eakin and Baxter discuss the physical attributes of women working in the justice's office, including "sexually suggestive observations."

"Clearly, these emails, which address judicial employees, are extremely inappropriate and offensive," the court's order stated.

The order continues to say, "Because the Respondent (Eakin) utilized his government issued equipment to engage in these email exchanges and participated in the email exchanges with other government employees who were using their government email addresses, he should have had a lower expectation of privacy."