DA's office says state Supreme Court should not dismiss Orie Melvin charges
By Adam Brandolph
Published: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 12:58 p.m.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday refused to dismiss public corruption charges against suspended Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
The court's one-page order was given without comment. Justice Max Baer, who campaigned against Melvin in 2003, abstained.
Earlier, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office filed a response to Melvin's petition, saying her argument that her prosecution violated the separation of powers mandated in the state constitution and U.S. Constitution lacked merit and was based on a faulty premise.
“The activity, which happened to be against (the Supreme Court's) order prohibiting political activity, was being performed when the employees were being paid to do the commonwealth's business; and was being carried out with equipment and supplies … to perform her duties as judge,” Deputy District Attorney Michael W. Streily wrote.
Melvin's attorneys Patrick A. Casey and Daniel T. Brier filed the request with her six fellow judges when Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus rejected the same argument in December.
“This case involves an unprecedented and constitutionally invalid effort by a local district attorney to criminalize alleged violations of this court's order restricting political activity by court employees,” Casey and Brier wrote.
Streily said the consequences of that argument are “frightening to a free society.”
“Supreme Court justices and judges of inferior courts are given a get-out-of-jail-free card in a situation where the average citizen would face criminal charges,” he said. “No judge should be permitted to misappropriate commonwealth resources to further her political career and then shelter herself from criminal prosecuting saying that the theft is insulated because of the context in which it occurred.”
Melvin, 56, of Marshall is charged with using staff in her Superior Court office to help her campaign for a seat on the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009. Melvin and her sister, former judicial staffer Janine Orie, 58, of McCandless, are scheduled to stand trial before Nauhaus on Jan. 23.
An Allegheny County jury in March convicted a third sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, of similar charges. She is serving 2½ to 10 years in prison.
The Republican Orie family has said the charges are politically motivated. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., a Democrat, denies that.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Orpik on IR; Dumoulin recalled
- Aliquippa’s Henry picks West Virginia over Pitt
- Kovacevic: Enough of these Steelers already
- Steelers WR Brown says ‘I thought I had it clean’ after wild, near-miss finish
- Robinson: $500K proposal for August Wilson Center brought threats, vitriol
- Penguins players are not out looking for fights
- Former Pirate Parker does not make Hall of Fame
- Keno, lottery privatization could be back before Pennsylvania Senate
- Greensburg man dies after multi-vehicle crash on Route 22
- Mother convicted of drowning son in Green Tree hotel bathtub to spend life in prison
- Man robs Dollar Bank in North Huntingdon