Kane blames First Deputy Beemer for review of justice’s emails
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Thursday released 48 emails linked to a Supreme Court justice’s private account and faulted her first deputy for confirming an outside review that found no misconduct by the jurist.
Kane said First Deputy Bruce Beemer’s review of 1,038 emails linked to Justice Michael Eakin “confirmed the findings” of Pittsburgh lawyer Robert Byer for the court last year. Byer found no improper conduct by Eakin with prosecutors on pending cases.
Beemer, a former Allegheny County assistant district attorney, could not be reached for comment. On staff when Kane took office in 2013, he became second-in-command in June 2014.
Insiders say Beemer has been shunted aside since he fell out of favor with Kane. He testified against Kane before a statewide grand jury that recommended charging her with crimes. Beemer is believed to be under a protective order from the judge who oversaw the grand jury.
Kane faces 12 criminal charges in Montgomery County, including perjury and obstruction of justice. She maintains she is innocent of leaking grand jury material to a newspaper to embarrass a former state prosecutor.
Kane has thousands more emails, though it’s not known how many contain offensive content.
“The attorney general needs to stop playing games and release all of that,” said Terry Mutchler, former director of the Office of Open Records, who is representing the Philadelphia Inquirer in a court case to force release of the material. “We don’t need to see more porn; we need to see all the players.”
It’s important to find out whether prosecutors and judges messaged each other without including defense attorneys, Mutchler said.
“I think it raises the question of impropriety,” Mutchler said.
Kane, a Democrat, lost her right to practice law at 12:01 a.m. Thursday but remains in office. Eakin, 66, a Republican and former Cumberland County prosecutor, was one of five justices who voted unanimously to suspend her law license temporarily.
Eakin has apologized for insensitive emails in his Yahoo account under the name of “John Smith.”
Kane offered reporters a disc containing 48 emails she considers “pornographic, misogynistic and racist,” which the Judicial Conduct Board reviewed in Beemer’s office in November.
Eakin received 47 of the emails — some repeats forwarded by several people — but sent only one, titled “Why I Failed Fourth Grade,” to one person.
It is a photo of a female teacher asking a classroom of elementary school kids for two examples of an abstract noun, “something you can think of but not touch.” A little boy answers, “Your (breasts).”
Women were among recipients of many emails. Some emails show topless women or women in string bikinis, including an altered photo of a woman on a beach with her head missing. Subject lines include “Ladies Toilet,” “Hooters 25th” and “Vibrator Warning.”
One email, called “Mission Impossible,” shows a man and an obese woman appearing to have sex.
In a letter to Chief Justice Thomas Saylor about the emails, Kane described one as a boy “licking a nude Barbie doll.” The image shows a boy with his mouth almost on the doll, but he is not licking.
Robert Graci, counsel for the Judicial Conduct Board, has said Kane’s office did not provide the board “all the information” regarding Eakin; her office denied that.
The board reviewed only “a subset” of offensive emails that Eakin received or sent, Kane said. She said Graci and Beemer were “solely responsible” for selecting them and “only Graci can explain” why he closed his investigation “knowing he had not seen all of Justice Eakin’s emails.”
Graci could not be reached.
Byer reviewed more than 4,000 emails sent or received by justices, not just Eakin’s.
The court last year suspended former Justice Seamus McCaffery of Philadelphia because of pornographic emails he sent from a private account to an agent in the attorney general’s office. McCaffery retired in a deal to keep his pension.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or [email protected].