ShareThis Page

Joan Orie Melvin sends 2nd, more contrite round of letters to judges

| Thursday, April 16, 2015, 12:25 p.m.

Apology letters from convicted former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin hit the mailboxes of judges across the state this week, a part of her sentence on corruption charges.

An Allegheny County jury in 2013 convicted Melvin, 59, of Marshall of using her Superior Court seat to campaign for the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009. She lost the 2003 election but won in 2009. Jurors convicted her of using state-paid staffers to work on her campaigns.

Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus sentenced Melvin to three years of house arrest and two years of probation. In addition to the confinement, the judge ordered Melvin to write apology letters to every judge in the state on a picture of herself in handcuffs.

An appeals court upheld the letter-writing but ruled it didn't have to be on the photograph.

Melvin sent a three-paragraph letter, personally addressed to each judge.

“Please allow me to apologize for my conduct. I fully acknowledge any harm caused by my crimes and accept responsibility for my conduct,” she wrote. “As a former member of the Pennsylvania Judiciary, I realize that my conduct has impacted the public's perception toward the judiciary and the difficulty it has imposed upon the discharge of your responsibilities as a judge.

“I accept responsibility for the crimes for which I have been convicted. I regret any harm my conduct has caused you.”

This is the second round of letters Melvin sent. Nauhaus ruled the first letters were insufficient, generic and unsatisfactory.

Melvin's first letter said: “As a matter of law, I am guilty of these offenses.”

Nauhaus said: “This is not an apology.”

He told Melvin each letter must be personalized and written by her, although he stopped short of requiring her to write them by hand.

Melvin is serving her sentence in her 3,650-square-foot home. She is allowed to leave for Sunday Mass, Holy Days of Obligation and Christmas Eve services.

Melvin initially appealed again to the Supreme Court but withdrew the appeal when the court said she couldn't choose parts of her sentence to begin serving while appealing other parts. That left her the choice of putting off the entire sentence or dropping the appeal.

Melvin's sister, former Republican Sen. Jane Orie, 53, of McCandless was released from prison in 2014 after serving the minimum of her 2½- to 10-year sentence on charges of forgery, conflict of interest and theft of services.

A third sister and former Melvin staffer, Janine Orie, 60, of McCandless was sentenced to a year of house arrest for her role in her sisters' schemes.

Bobby Kerlik is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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.