Seamus McCaffery retiring from PA Supreme Court

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Pennsylvania state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery poses in his Center City Philadelphia office Jun. 11, 2010. ( Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer )

Seamus McCaffery, a former Philadelphia police officer elected in 2007 to the state's highest court, is retiring today, one week after four of his fellow justices voted to suspend him from the bench.

Lynn Lawson, Gov. Corbett's communications director, said McCaffery's letter to the governor has been received but that Corbett had not seen it as of 12:45 p.m.  Corbett was addressing the Pennsylvania Press Club at a luncheon.

The Supreme Court, in an order lifting McCaffery's suspension, confirmed his resignation.

McCaffery, 64, has been in a long and rancorous feud with fellow Philadelphian, Chief Justice Ron Castille, who must step down on Dec. 31 because he has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Castille was one of the four votes to suspend McCaffery last Monday after another justice, J. Michael Eakin all but accused McCaffery of extortion a week before.

McCaffery was snared in the porn scandal that has been blossoming at the state Attorney General's Office, leading to the resignations of four former top deputies to Gov. Corbett.

Castille had pushed to release details about explicit emails McCaffery had sent and received.

Eakin, in a complaint filed with the state Judicial Conduct Board on Oct. 17, said McCaffery had urged him to get Castille to back down on his public statements about the porn. Eakin also alleged that McCaffery said  he was "not going down alone" and mentioned explicit and racist emails Eakin received, which were later leaked to the Daily News.

The justices, in their order suspending McCaffery, told the Judicial Conduct Board to determine within 30 days whether there was "probable cause to file formal misconduct charges against Justice McCaffery."

The Judicial Conduct Board today said it is dismissing all of its investigations into McCaffery's conduct since he "has retired and has agreed not to seek senior judge status and not to again seek elective judicial office."

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic Party chairman, said McCaffery called him this morning to let him know the retirement was coming.  That caught Brady off guard.

"He just didn't think it was worth fighting, legally," Brady said. "It would cost him a lot of money. He didn't want to put his family through it."

McCaffery served 20 years in the Philadelphia Police Department before being elected as a Municipal Court judge in 1993.  He was elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2003.

He was due to stand for a retention election in 2017 for another 10-year term on the high court, where he could have served until mandatory retirement in 2020.

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