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Editorial | Judge Cappy's Sweet Deal

Parting gifts

Turns out Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ralph J. Cappy will get an even bigger pay hike.

Fortunately, taxpayers won't underwrite the check.

That's because Cappy is staying one step ahead of voters by joining Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a large Pittsburgh-based law firm, after he retires in January.

Cappy, as many recall, was the architect of the infamous effort to boost salaries for judges. This was a good idea gone bad. The pay hike plan blew up after legislators gave themselves a raise as well, approving it in the dark of night.

Cappy dug his grave with Pennsylvanians by defending the plan in the face of public outrage.

The legislature repealed the pay raise only to have the high court show total disregard for the citizens of this state by reinstating the hike just for judges.

That move destroyed public confidence in the high court. Trust has been further eroded by the court's handling of cases involving the state's fledgling casino industry. Key court rulings read like a rubber stamp to the political powers in Harrisburg.

Now, the law firm that Cappy is joining has a suit pending before the state Supreme Court. The firm represents Peter DePaul, an investor in the planned Foxwoods casino in Philadelphia, who wants the court to strike down the ban on political campaign contributions by casino owners and executives.

Cappy said in an interview that he didn't know who DePaul was and that, as a lawyer, he wouldn't be appearing before the high court on any matters.

But Cappy touts his knowledge of the legal issues surrounding casino gambling, which should boost business for the firm.

That's just great. It will further fuel the perception that Pennsylvania's high court is anything but impartial.