2017 Report & Recommendations on Improving Pennsylvania's Judicial Discipline System

Red lady justice on a blue and red background

PMC released this report because we perceived a need to re-examine Pennsylvania's judicial disciplinary system. Our concern stemmed from the reported misconduct of three Supreme Court justices: Joan Orie Melvin, Seamus McCaffery, and Michael Eakin, and the disciplinary cases surrounding that alleged misconduct. These cases not only exposed flaws in the integrity of our highest judicial officials, but it also exposed significant process issues within Pennsylvania's judicial disciplinary system, leading us to question the integrity of the institutions as well as the individuals.

By focusing on the flaws and failures of both the individuals and the entities involved in these scandals specifically, and the judicial disciplinary system in general, this report explores how individual and institutional integrity within the judicial disciplinary process can be cultivated through the supporting values of ethical behavior, impartiality, accountability, openness, transparency, and fairness. It uses a chronologically-focused, factual narrative of the Melvin, McCaffery, and Eakin scandals in order to establish historical contexts for subsequent commentaries, and offers ten specific recommendations for reform. The objective is to shed light on our judicial disciplinary culture, while the ultimate focus is on pragmatic reforms that can be implemented by the Judicial Conduct Board ("JCB"), the Court of Judicial Discipline ("CJD"), and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Click here to read the full report.

Resource Type