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Sen. Jane Orie seeks expanded jury pool for October retrial

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By Bobby Kerlik
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

State Sen. Jane Orie wants her constituents included in the jury pool for her second trial, which an Allegheny County judge yesterday delayed until October.

In a request filed with Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning, the McCandless Republican asked that the jury pool include everyone from Allegheny County. Manning barred anyone living within Orie's 40th Senatorial District from serving on the jury in her first corruption trial, which ended in a mistrial last month when the judge concluded that Orie's attorney submitted forged documents as evidence.

Orie, 49, appealed her case yesterday to the state Supreme Court, seeking to have the charges against her thrown out on double jeopardy grounds. She also asked the court to have Manning removed as trial judge.

Orie 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.

Orie wants Manning to sequester the next jury from the time it is picked until the case ends. Manning sequestered the jury only during deliberations in the first trial.

University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff said it's unlikely that Manning would change his mind on excluding Orie's constituents from serving on the jury.

"She has to be able to convince the judge that he was wrong or prove that it wasn't necessary (in the first trial)," Burkoff said. "With (the jury sequestration), that one has a reasonable chance. There was so much continuing news coverage during the first trial that Judge Manning might be nervous about what the jurors might hear."

After a brief conference with attorneys in the case, Manning delayed jury selection until Oct. 3, citing ongoing appeals and the investigation into the forged documents. Selection was set to begin next week.

Secret Service experts are examining the paper and ink on the forged documents, which Orie's defense used to attempt to discredit the prosecution's key witness, her former chief of staff, Jamie Pavlot.

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