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Ruling delayed on pay for Melvin, awaiting trial

| Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 8:28 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline on Tuesday delayed ruling on whether Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin should continue receiving her salary while she fights criminal corruption charges.

The Harrisburg-based court enforces judicial ethics rules. President Judge Robert Curran said he will schedule a hearing to consider witness testimony and evidence in the case, though he noted that the court has the authority to suspend Melvin's salary without such a hearing.

Melvin, 56, a Marshall Republican, is paid $195,309 a year.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. charged Melvin on May 18 with illegally using her state Superior Court staff in 2003 and 2009 to perform campaign work. She has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she could go to prison.

Separate charges in front of the Court of Judicial Discipline could cost Melvin her job.

Melvin's attorney in the disciplinary proceedings, William Arbuckle, did not return a message seeking comment.

Effective Saturday, eight members of Melvin's nine-person staff will be furloughed without pay. Her sister and longtime aide, Janine Orie, will be fired. The staffers are paid between $53,600 and $109,900 a year.

Orie, 58, of McCandless is scheduled for trial in August on charges that she did political work on state time. Her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, was sentenced June 4 to 2 12 to 10 years in prison on similar corruption charges.

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