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Former Pa. justice Melvin ordered to court over alleged probation violation

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Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Leaving the Allegheny County Courthouse, former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin flashes a smile after being sentenced to house arrest Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

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By Adam Brandolph
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 1:00 p.m.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin is expected to appear before an Allegheny County judge Tuesday for allegedly violating her probation.

Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus ordered Melvin, 57, of Marshall to appear before him because she has not completed part of her sentence: writing letters of apology to her staffers and the nearly 500 judges across Pennsylvania on a photograph of herself in handcuffs.

Melvin contends that writing the apologies requires her to incriminate herself while she is appealing a jury's conviction finding her guilty of using her judicial staff to run campaigns for the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009.

The county District Attorney's Office said in a court filing this week that “she will suffer no injury if she complies with Judge Nauhaus' directive.” If she doesn't fulfill her sentence, the DA reminded, Nauhaus could sentence her to jail.

The appellate court last week issued a temporary stay while it decides whether that part of Melvin's sentence was illegal.

In addition to writing letters of apology, Nauhaus sentenced the former jurist to serve three years of house arrest, two years on probation and to work at a soup kitchen three days a week.

Melvin's attorneys, Dan Brier and Pat Casey, did not return calls for comment.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or

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