New justice to assume Melvin's former Supreme Court seat
When Correale Stevens was sworn in as a Superior Court judge 16 years ago, he held the ceremony in a Luzerne County senior center and brought a judicial colleague and two friends along.
“We ate sandwiches and played bingo afterward,” said Stevens, 66, of Luzerne County, who will be sworn in as a state Supreme Court justice on Tuesday in a more formal affair.
More than 40 federal, state and local judges are expected to attend the ceremony in the rotunda of the Luzerne County Courthouse.
Stevens is replacing Joan Orie Melvin, 57, of Marshall, who resigned in May after becoming only the second sitting justice in the history of the nation's oldest appellate court to be convicted of a crime. Rolf Larsen, convicted of prescription fraud in 1994, is the other.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus sentenced Melvin to three years of house arrest and two years of probation for her conviction on corruption charges. Nauhaus ordered her to send a photo of herself in handcuffs with an apology to every member of the state's judiciary.
“Given the turmoil that has led up to this vacancy, the appointment really calls for stability and a sense of calmness,” said Ken Gormley, dean of Duquesne University's School of Law. “I think adding Justice Stevens to the court really achieves that.”
Gormley and former judicial colleagues tout Stevens' diverse background. Before becoming a Superior Court judge in 1997 and its president judge in 2011, Stevens served as a Republican state legislator for eight years, a Luzerne County's district attorney and a Common Pleas judge.
“He brings an awful lot to the position,” said retired Superior Court President Joseph A. Del Sole, who sat on the bench from 1984 to 2006.
Gov. Tom Corbett appointed Stevens to the post. The Senate confirmed him last month in a 50-0 vote, giving the seven-member bench four GOP members.
Stevens said he learned of his confirmation moments after getting married last month. Stevens said he turned off his cellphone after it began vibrating continually during the ceremony, with senators calling to share the news. He got the details after exchanging vows with his wife.
“It was a good day,” Stevens said.
Stevens said he is “ready to get to work,” noting he's been told he'll have a stack of about 70 petitions for appeal waiting for him.
“I'm not going to be a seat-warmer or someone who is there just to bide my time on the court and retire,” said Stevens, who will serve until January 2016, when a new justice elected in the previous November's election takes office. “I have a good relationship with the six sitting justices. I hope to use those relationships and my varied background to try to seek a consensus without giving up principle.”
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 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.
- Drilling group says Wolf overestimates expected tax revenue
- Mt. Lebanon deer-culling corrals sprayed with urine, repellant
- 4 World War II veterans from Western Pennsylvania honored by French government
- Officials will train camera on Neville Island coke plant
- Nonprofits offer help with Pittsburgh pension problems, Peduto says
- Roadwork detailed for Pittsburgh’s East Ohio Street
- Newsmaker: James H. Garrett Jr.
- North Hills Girl Scout volunteer sentenced for stealing from camp fund
- Police: Suspect in 1970 cold case homicide of 17-year-old dies days before charges filed
- Lawrenceville man charged with rape, child pornography and 27 other sexual offenses
- Owner of Strip District nightclub Ivy agrees to close after shooting