Pa. chief justice honored at DU amid porn email scandal

Photo by Claire Murray | Photo Editor. Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices convene in the Power Center Ballroom Tuesday afternoon to honor Ronald Castille.

Photo by Claire Murray | Photo Editor. Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices convene in the Power Center Ballroom Tuesday afternoon to honor Ronald Castille.

By Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke

The state Supreme Court chief justice said this week at Duquesne he plans to meet with the Attorney General on Friday about the release of lewd and pornographic emails sent by state employees, reportedly including at least one justice.

At a meeting Tuesday in the Power Center Ballroom where he was honored, Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said Attorney General Kathleen Kane has an obligation to release lewd emails circulated among some state employees in an unfolding scandal. Newspaper accounts have linked Justice Seamus McCaffery to the emails.

McCaffery was not in attendance at Tuesday’s event.

Castille, 70, has said that any judges involved in circulating pornographic emails could face repercussions and wants Kane to inform him which judges, if any, were involved.

The emails surfaced during Kane’s investigation of then-Attorney General Tom Corbett’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky grand jury investigation.

Castille was given the Carol Los Mansmann Award for distinguished public service and commitment to equal justice during his 20 years on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

 

“I get these awards but really the greatest reward I have is being able to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania,” Castille said.

Justices Michael Eakin, Max Baer, Debra McCloskey Todd, Correale Stevens and incoming Chief Justice Thomas Saylor were in attendance Tuesday.

The event was hosted by the Duquesne School of Law. Law school Dean Ken Gormley highlighted Castille’s professional ethical practices in an opening speech.

“Looking back on [Castille’s] professional life, it’s striking to me how much of it has focused on public service and on a deeply personal sense of duty that isn’t just trotted out for special occasions,” Gormley said. “His tenure … has been marked by access, candor, a sense of responsibility and a willingness to always reassess his positions.”

Saylor, who will take over for Castille on March 10, introduced the court and made opening remarks about Castille.

“Having served with Chief Justice Castille for the past 17 years, I have observed firsthand his persistent and tireless public and personal efforts to advance the fair and timely administration of justice,” Saylor said. “The bench, bar and citizens of this Commonwealth have been well served by his tenure.”

Rutgers University law professor Robert Williams, Widener Unviersity law professor John Dernbach and Duquesne law professor Bruce Ledewitz spoke at the event. The speakers emphasized Castille’s commitment to championing the Pennsylvania state constitution, of which Castille cited historical texts and amendments as the basis of his opinion’s and decisions. The most notable of these decisions concern property tax reform, voting rights, environmental protection, separation of powers and search and seizure laws.

The Carol Los Mansmann Award, named in honor of the late U.S. District Court of Appeals Justice and Duquesne alum, was first bestowed on former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2001, according to Gormley. Castille is the fifth recipient of the award.

“When I saw the people who received this [award], I said ‘Wow, how am I in the company of [these people]?” Castille said. “I thank you for thinking of me and honoring me with this wonderful trophy.”

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