- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A lawyer hired by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review thousands of emails between justices and the state attorney general’s office, including some containing pornography, reported Friday that he found no improper discussion of cases.

The report by Robert L. Byer was released by the courts, two months after the Pittsburgh lawyer was hired amid an unfolding scandal involving the email exchange of pornographic or explicit videos and images among members of the attorney general’s office and Justice Seamus McCaffery.

McCaffery resigned Oct. 27 following his suspension by fellow justices and the disclosure by Chief Justice Ronald Castille that McCaffery had sent numerous emails containing pornography to a now-retired agent in the attorney general’s office. That agent forwarded many of McCaffery’s emails to others in the office, Castille has said.

Castille, an outspoken critic of McCaffery, had warned that some court cases could be affected by inappropriate communication between judges and members of the attorney general’s office.

But Byer said in the report that, aside from the previously disclosed pornographic emails from McCaffery, he found no new improprieties after reviewing the correspondence supplied by the attorney general’s office at Castille’s request. The emails covered the period from 2008 through 2012.

McCaffery and his wife, Lise Rapaport, who served on McCaffery’s judicial staff, were “prolific senders” of emails to big groups of recipients, including members of the attorney general’s office and courts employees, Byer said. Those emails contained jokes, adult humor, inspirational stories and other non-work material, he said.

The only messages containing pornography were sent by McCaffery to a small number of recipients that included at least one member of the attorney general’s office, but no justices or judges, he wrote.

He found no communication from McCaffery or Rapaport regarding any cases or any personal relationships that would “call into question whether there should have been a recusal or whether the Supreme Court’s decision-making otherwise was compromised.”

The emails were discovered during an internal review under Attorney General Kathleen Kane of how her predecessors, including Gov. Tom Corbett, had handled the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation.

That report, released in June by an independent lawyer, described “an inexcusable lack of urgency” in arresting Sandusky, but found no evidence that the office was politically motivated to slow the investigation of the former Penn State assistant football coach while Corbett ran for governor in 2010.

McCaffery and at least eight other public employees lost their jobs amid the email scandal.

Of the eight others, four were fired by Kane and four were former employees of the attorney general’s office who had gone on to positions either in Corbett’s administration or the Lancaster County district attorney’s office. Employees in the attorney general’s office who sent or received the emails included some of the office’s top supervisors.

Kane said she has punished dozens of others and her office has identified eight former employees who either sent or received the emails.

Sandusky is serving a prison sentence on child sexual abuse convictions; Corbett lost his re-election bid in November to businessman Tom Wolf.

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