Former Pa. Chief Justice negotiated raise with lawmakers, suit claims

By John O'Brien | May 22, 2008


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania's former and current Supreme Court Chief Justices recently decided to fire back against a lawsuit alleging misconduct on the Court.

The League of Women Voters claim former Chief Justice Ralph Cappy dealed with lawmakers in order to get legislative authorization a judicial pay raise passed.

"(T)he allegations are best described as preposterous," Cappy said.

Though filed Tuesday, the complaint makes many of the same claims that one filed years ago did. That suit was eventually dismissed.

Attorney Paul Rossi filed both. He says Cappy offered a favorable ruling on lawsuit over a 2004 slot machine law in exchange for the pay raise and claims he has two anonymous lawmakers as sources.

Chief Justice Ronald Castille said the suit is an insult.

"This court filing is ludicrous in every respect. It is filled with rumors, innuendo, hearsay and rank speculation," he said.

"It relies on nameless, faceless individuals who make false allegations behind a screen of anonymity, but apparently lack the courage to come forth and speak publicly.

"What is far more serious is that this lawsuit slanders the entire Supreme Court of Pennsylvania with baseless and irresponsible charges, and also slanders a respected former Chief Justice of this court. Having done so, the filing parties may have subjected themselves to sanctions, and the attorney may have subjected himself to disciplinary action."

The pay raise, which provided more money for lawmakers too, happened a year after the slots law was passed. The pay raise was later repealed but restored in 2006 by the Supreme Court, while the law survived a challenge in the Supreme Court.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien via e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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