Wow, judge! Show mercy on Melvin
Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.
Everyone expected Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Lester Nauhaus to throw the book at former Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin on Tuesday. But few anticipated the tome would carry the weight of an unabridged, hardback edition of Webster's Dictionary, which Nauhaus obviously never used to look up the definition of “leniency.”
Nauhaus could have sentenced Melvin to 25 years in prison for crimes related to using state employees to work on her campaigns for the state's high court. He could have followed prosecutors' recommendations of as much as four years behind bars.
Instead, the hanging judge sentenced her to three years of hard time, then tacked on another two years of probation.
Nauhaus could have done Melvin a favor by sentencing her to the State Correctional Institution-Cambridge Springs in Crawford County. There, she would have learned the prison routine under the guidance of her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, whose career also was derailed by a pesky public corruption scandal.
But Nauhaus was determined to make an example of Melvin. He ordered her to serve her time at the State Correctional Institution-Joan Orie Melvin's House.
That's right. For the next three years, Melvin will have to call her home, home.
She will spend her days contemplating her crimes in the cramped confines of a $555,000, five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath colonial in Marshall. She will spend lonely evenings not having a clue what her family members might be up to, unless she happens to glance across the living room. Each night, she will yearn for the comfort of her own bed shortly before retiring to it.
Nauhaus sending Melvin to this veritable Alcatraz should have been penalty enough. But he tacked on a $55,000 fine and several other provisions to the sentence, including:
• Barring Melvin from using the title “justice.”
This excessive prohibition probably will force Melvin to shred her personal stationery and prompt the printing of new personal checks.
• Ordering Melvin to send a photo of herself and an apology to every member of the state judiciary, which includes 550 District Court judges, 450 Common Pleas Court judges, 19 Superior Court judges, 13 Commonwealth Court judges and seven Supreme Court justices (once the vacancy created by Melvin's resignation is filled). Even if she has a coupon, Melvin is about to drop a fortune at the Target photo department.
• Requiring Melvin to write handwritten apologies to the state workers she ordered to perform illegal work, subjecting her to a monotonous task that puts her at risk for both monumental boredom and wrist tendonitis.
Nauhaus certainly heaved that unabridged dictionary at Melvin. In refusing to cut her any breaks, he proved himself to be a merciless beast on the bench.
As for Melvin, spending the next three years wearing an ankle bracelet while padding around the house probably will leave her with a question impossible to rid from her mind.
What if the cable goes out?
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- New Florence man charged with killing police officer
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall
- Week 12 — Steelers-Seahawks gameday grades
- Re-enactor commits to pioneer lifestyle in Murrysville cabin
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- University of Pittsburgh researchers revisit war of electric currents
- Penn State coach Franklin fires offensive coordinator Donovan