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State judges reject Sen. Jane Orie's last-minute appeal

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Monday, Feb. 7, 2011

The state Supreme Court today rejected a last-minute attempt by state Sen. Jane Orie to delay her trial on Corruption charges.

The state's high court declined to hear an appeal from Orie, a McCandless Republican and former majority whip, over her claims that the state's conflict of interest law is unconstitutionally vague. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ruled last month that the law was clear.

The ruling this afternoon follows a similar decision from the state Superior Court. The lower court also rejected the appeal and declined to delay the trial.

Jury selection in the criminal case against Orie is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. charged Orie with theft of services and conflict of interest, accusing her of using state-paid legislative staff to do campaign work for her and her sister, state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

Another sister, Janine Orie, an aide to Melvin, faces similar charges. Melvin has not been charged.

The Supreme Court rejected pleas from Orie's attorney and from the Senate Republican caucus.

The order states that Justice Thomas Saylor dissented and would have granted the appeal to determine whether the seizure of records from Orie's legislative office “violated general separation of powers principles and/ or privileges afford by the Speech and Debate clause” of the state Constitution.




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