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Orie appeal to delay 2nd trial

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By Bobby Kerlik
Saturday, April 9, 2011
 

The attorney for state Sen. Jane Orie appealed her case to the state Superior Court on Friday, delaying her second trial which had been scheduled to start next week.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning agreed to postpone the case until the appellate court decides whether to take the appeal.

The former Republican whip is seeking to have her corruption case thrown out on double jeopardy grounds and to have Manning removed as trial judge. Manning denied both of those requests this week, calling the double jeopardy claim "frivolous."

Orie's first trial ended on March 3 when Manning halted jury deliberations and declared a mistrial because he agreed with prosecutors that the defense had introduced forged documents during the case. The forgery is under investigation.

Orie, 49, of McCandless, is accused of using her state-paid staff to do campaign work for her and her sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Another sister, Janine Orie, 56, of McCandless, an aide to Melvin, also is charged. Melvin, 54, of Marshall, is not charged but is under investigation.

Manning blasted Orie's defense in his opinion. But the senator's attorney, William Costopoulos, fired back in his appeal.

"Judge Manning's grant of a mistrial here is unprecedented in American (let alone Pennsylvania) jurisprudence and his lengthy, detailed opinion in which he is unable to cite any authority for his ... mistrial declaration underscores the merit of Senator Orie's double jeopardy motion and, alternatively, the need to recuse the trial judge from any further involvement in this case," Costopoulos wrote.

Costopoulos and Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., declined to comment, citing a gag order in the case.

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