Pennsylvania justice suspended over emails with lewd content

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2011 file photo, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin poses for photographs with the court's other justices at Philadelphia's historic Old City Hall. A Pennsylvania ethics board is accusing Eakin of violating both judicial and constitutional codes of conduct by exchanging lewd and offensive emails with friends. The Judicial Conduct Board on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, said it filed four charges with a disciplinary court that has the power to remove judges. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2011 file photo, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin poses for photographs with the court's other justices at Philadelphia's historic Old City Hall. A Pennsylvania ethics board is accusing Eakin of violating both judicial and constitutional codes of conduct by exchanging lewd and offensive emails with friends. The Judicial Conduct Board on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, said it filed four charges with a disciplinary court that has the power to remove judges. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice is suspended from his job with pay while a state judicial ethics court considers allegations his email practices have tainted the court system.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Judicial Discipline suspended Justice Michael Eakin on Tuesday, calling his emails insensitive and inappropriate regarding gender, race, sexual orientation and ethnicity.

The ruling comes a day after Eakin’s tearful testimony before the court in which he apologized but argued that his actions didn’t warrant formal discipline.

A trial on the allegations could occur within months. If the court rules against him, he faces a range of possible punishment, up to permanent removal from the bench.

Last year another justice, Seamus McCaffery, abruptly retired after being suspended over his own emails become public.

Eakin’s lawyer says they’re disappointed but respect the process and hope trial occurs soon.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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