Judge rules against Supreme Court Justice Melvin accuser's hidden identity in federal lawsuit
Embarrassment is no longer a reason to shield the identity of someone involved in a federal lawsuit, a federal judge ruled on Friday in a case involving a key witness in the state's prosecution of Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster in 2010 allowed Jamie Pavlot to use the pseudonym “Jane Doe” while suing her former boyfriend on a claim that he infected her with herpes. Pavlot filed her lawsuit in federal court because her former boyfriend lived in Connecticut at the time.
In a motion to federal court, Melvin sought to unseal Pavlot's identity. She said the details of Pavlot's lawsuit contradicted her testimony during Melvin's preliminary hearing about Pavlot's medical condition and what caused her stress in November 2009, a time period that figures in Melvin's case.
Lancaster said the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since has limited pseudonyms to cases in which the person has reasonable fear of being severely harmed if he or she is identified.
Stephen Stallings, Pavlot's attorney, could not be reached for comment.
Pavlot, in responding to Melvin's motion, said the justice selectively quoted the hearing transcript to make it appear there were contradictions in Pavlot's testimony. She also claimed Melvin wanted to embarrass her.
Charles Kelly, one of Melvin's attorneys, declined to comment other than to say Lancaster's decision will ensure Melvin receives a fair trial.
“One of her primary accusers is going to have both her competence and credibility thoroughly tested,” Kelly said.
State prosecutors have charged Melvin and her sister Janine Orie with using the justice's court staff and equipment in her 2003 and 2009 political campaigns for state Supreme Court.
Pavlot, the former chief of staff for another sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, has testified that all three sisters ordered her to do political work while she was on the state payroll.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.