Share This Page

Hearing delayed for indicted Pa. Supreme Court Justice Melvin

| Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 12:22 p.m.

An Allegheny County judge today granted a 30-day delay in the preliminary hearing for state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin but did not rule on a request that the entire county bench be recused from handling the case. Melvin, 56, a Marshall Republican, was scheduled to appear in Pittsburgh Municipal Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing on the nine pending criminal counts against her. Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning delayed the hearing until July 9. He did not rule on a request to appoint an out-of-county judge to hear the trial. He deferred ruling on that until the preliminary hearing is over. Melvin's new attorney, Patrick Casey, filed the requests Friday. Casey asked for a 60-day delay, saying that he has a planned family vacation to Dublin, Ireland, and will be out of the country from June 9 to June 24. Casey wrote that the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates recusal of the entire Allegheny County bench. He said Melvin, a county judge from 1990-1997, ran against two members of the bench in 1991 who serve in the criminal division - Judges Kathleen Durkin and David Cashman - and "personally served with a number of the judges who are currently seated on the Allegheny County bench, including many judges assigned to the criminal division." Casey also said that Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski may be called as a witness by the defense at the preliminary hearing. Sasinoski's wife, Lisa Sasinoski, was a former chief law clerk for Melvin and is key witness for the prosecution. The judge may be called as a witness "to testify concerning (his wife's) activities during the period in question and circumstances surrounding her separation from employment with Justice Orie Melvin," according to the filing. Lisa Sasinoski worked for Melvin until her unsuccessful 2003 bid for the Supreme Court. Lisa Sasinoski then left to work for Justice Max Baer, who beat Melvin in that race. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. charged Melvin last month - including with four felonies - based on allegations that she used her state-paid staff to do political work for her 2003 and 2009 election bids for the state's high court.

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.