Monday, July 8, 2013
The Sad State of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Here are the opening paragraphs of an editorial by the Editorial Board of the Legal Intelligencer. Disclosure: I am a member of the Board and approved of this editorial:
There is an ethical cloud hanging over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court involving referral fees received from law firms by Lise Rapaport, Justice Seamus McCaffery's wife and chief aide and clerk. The existence of the fees has been public since this paper exposed it several years ago. Recently, The Philadelphia Inquirer published additional information about the referral fees. No one in any official capacity has taken any action. The facts are troubling and places the Supreme Court in a bad light. It must be put to rest.
McCaffery's wife, Rapaport, is a lawyer who is employed as his chief aide and clerk, at a salary of $75,395. While employed by him, she has received 18 referral fees from at least eight different law firms.
Some of these firms have had cases (other than those involving the referrals) adjudicated by the Supreme Court in which McCaffery was a voting member of the panel. He did not disclose his wife's receipt of the referral fees to the lawyers representing the parties on appeal. The Inquirer has reported that he sat on over 10 such appeals. According to the Inquirer, in many of the cases he ruled in favor of the party represented by the firm that had previously paid his wife a referral fee in another case.