Suspended Supreme Court Justice Melvin seeks extra screening of jurors
Potential jurors in the corruption trial next month for suspended Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin may have to answer questions about the intense publicity the case has garnered.
Melvin's attorneys filed a motion on Wednesday requesting Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus ask jurors eight questions beyond the standard 16-question sheet. Nauhaus did not set a date for his ruling.
The proposed queries would ask potential jurors whether they've seen media coverage of Melvin's case, the case against her sister and former judicial staffer Janine Orie, or the case against another sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie.
The attorneys also want to know if the potential jurors or anyone close to them has ever worked in a government office, volunteered or worked for a political campaign, been involved in a family business or been accused of improper conduct at work.
Orie Melvin, 56, of Marshall is accused of using her Superior Court office staff, who were public employees, to help her campaign for a seat on the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009. She faces seven criminal counts, including theft of services, conspiracy, solicitation to tamper or fabricate evidence and official oppression.
Janine Orie, 58, of McCandless will stand trial with Melvin on charges that she also directed staffers to perform campaign work.
An Allegheny County jury in March convicted Jane Orie of similar charges involving her office staff. She's serving 2 1⁄2 to 10 years in prison.
Melvin's attorneys requested that the court distribute the questionnaires to all prospective jurors by mail and make the completed forms available to lawyers about a week before jury selection begins on Jan. 23.
Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, declined to comment.
University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff said the proposed questions are interesting but not surprising.
“They give you a sense of the nature of the defense that she would be making,” Burkoff said.
Melvin's attorneys also requested Nauhaus hear the trial in Judge Donald E. Machen's third-floor courtroom because of its audio-visual capabilities and proximity to its jury room.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached 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.
- Kennywood fanatic, 82, rides Jack Rabbit 95 times in a row
- Memorial Day service in National Cemetery of the Alleghenies grows each year
- Journalist Burzynski found place in public relations, military
- Man shot while driving through Liberty Tunnel
- Pa. gaming industry’s growth amplifies siren call for addicts
- Allegheny County police and the …
- Newsmaker: Rich Jones
- Thrill of the chase: Kennywood fanatic, 82, rides Jack Rabbit 95 times in a row
- Web headline
- Newsmaker: John F. Alcorn
- Lowly job likely awaits former Pittsburgh police chief after prison