By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Embroiled in a porn e-mail scandal, Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Seamus McCaffery is leaving the bench.
McCaffery, first elected to the state Supreme Court in 2007, sent a letter to the governor that he is retiring, effective immediately.
Last week McCaffery’s fellow justices voted to suspend him, amid allegations that he sent or received more than 200 sexually explicit e-mails to state employees.
The porn scandal has led to resignations of a handful of ranking officials in Gov. Corbett’s administration.
In light of the retirement of Justice McCaffery, his colleagues today wrote a brief, three-line order stating that effective immediately, the court’s previous order of October 20th (suspending McCaffery pending the outcome of the investigation) “is vacated as moot.”
That technically means that Justice McCaffery will not retire under suspension.
Sources say it was a deal worked out between McCaffery and his main critic, Chief Justice Ron Castille. McCaffery agreed not to seek senior judge status or run for the bench again.
All along, McCaffery has maintained that the scandal was “a cooked up controversy.”
A former Philadelphia police officer and US Marine, McCaffery previously apologized for the e-mails, which he said were intended for friends and not for public view.
McCaffery called the e-mails a “lapse in judgment” and also said last week that he was truly sorry if he offended anyone.
The state Judicial Conduct Board, which was set to look into the matter, says it now considers the investigation closed.
The sudden resignation of Justice McCaffery gives Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett the privilege of nominating someone to fill McCaffery’s seat on the state’s highest court until next year. Any nominee would be subject to a 2/3 confirmation vote of the state senate.
In the next statewide municipal elections, in 2015, a candiate will be elected to a full ten-year Supreme Court term.