Judge: Joan Orie Melvin is 'cherry picking' her sentence requirements
By Adam Brandolph
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 3:48 p.m.
A clearly frustrated Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus chastised former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her lawyer on Tuesday, accusing her of “cherry-picking” portions of her sentence with which to comply.
The judge could not revoke her house arrest because he awaits a decision from state Superior Court.
Nauhaus accused Melvin, 57, of Marshall of ignoring his request to write letters of apology and failing to pay fines. He repeatedly yelled at her Scranton attorney, Patrick Casey, because he asked an appeals court to stay part of her sentence before filing a motion with Nauhaus.
“There were various aspects of the sentence, because I believe there were several issues that had to be addressed by the defendant,” Nauhaus said. “She is choosing which part of the sentence they wanted to comply with and which part of the sentence they didn't want to comply with. ... You don't get that choice, as far as I'm concerned.”
In May, he sentenced Melvin to three years of house arrest, two years of probation and work at a soup kitchen three days a week — terms she is fulfilling, he said.
But she did not write apology letters to her staff and nearly 500 judges across Pennsylvania, on a photograph of herself in handcuffs as Nauhaus directed. He accused her of not paying fines, restitution and court costs.
Casey said Melvin has paid $127,000 she owed as of Tuesday afternoon. He said he advised Melvin not to write the apologies because it requires her to incriminate herself while appealing a conviction of using her judicial staff to run campaigns.
“We are asserting her constitutional rights,” Casey said.
Superior Court this month agreed to delay the letter-writing requirement while it decides whether that is legal. Nauhaus said he expects a court decision this month.
He lashed out at Casey for crying foul to the appellate court: “Had you come to me, I wouldn't have had a problem with it. My problem, quite frankly ... is how you just decided you were going to do it your way.”
Casey said he told the judge what he intended to do when Nauhaus sentenced Melvin on May 14.
“You didn't file anything, Mr. Casey,” the judge said, forcing Casey to read the law that requires a written filing. “As far as I'm concerned, that was just a throwaway.”
Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus said nothing during the hearing or afterward.
In a response to Melvin's request to Superior Court, Deputy District Attorney Michael W. Streily wrote that she apologized in court and isn't asked to admit guilt — only to write on the photograph what she spoke.
Melvin is one of three sisters convicted of using political office for personal gain.
Former state Sen. Jane Orie, 52, of McCandless is serving a prison sentence for forgery, conflict of interest and theft of services. Janine Orie, 59, of McCandless, a former Melvin staffer, is serving one year of house arrest for her role in her sisters' schemes.
Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or email@example.com.
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.
- 4 dead in ‘horrific’ Armstrong County crash
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- Group wants Consol to adhere to terms of Greene County mining permit
- U.S. attorney seeks plan for reducing heroin overdoses
- Police see no sign Franklin Regional stabbing suspect was bullied
- Nine state universities challenged over athletic opportunites for women
- Falcon band performs at Disney World
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Authorities investigating skeletal remains found in Ohio River in Avalon
- Bishop Zubik urges Catholics to evangelize
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur