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Disciplinary board disbars ex-Supreme Court Justice Melvin

| Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, 12:40 p.m.
Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Joan Orie Melvin was  disbarred retroactively to July 12, 2013, the date she went on temporary suspension amid a corruption case.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Joan Orie Melvin was disbarred retroactively to July 12, 2013, the date she went on temporary suspension amid a corruption case.

Joan Orie Melvin is no longer allowed to practice law in Pennsylvania, where she was once a member of its highest court.

The Supreme Court disbarred Melvin, 58, of Marshall effective retroactively to July 12, 2013, the date she went on temporary suspension amid a corruption case that ultimately ended her judicial career, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania announced Friday.

Melvin's attorney, Patrick Casey, declined to comment.

Melvin is serving a three-year house arrest sentence stemming from her February 2013 conviction of using state staffers to perform political campaign work.

The former justice submitted her resignation from the bar in December. In her resignation petition, she acknowledged the pending disciplinary board investigation linked to her conviction.

“She submits her resignation because she knows that she could not successfully defend herself against charges predicated upon the misconduct under investigation,” according to her signed petition.

In addition to her house arrest sentence, Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus ordered her to write apology letters to every judge in the state. She is allowed to leave her 3,650-square-foot home only to attend church and she must keep an electronic monitoring device strapped to her ankle.

The jury convicted Melvin of using her Superior Court seat to campaign for the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009. She lost the 2003 election but won the 2009 election to the high court. She was charged with using her and her sister's taxpayer-paid staffs to run her campaigns.

Separately, the court disbarred Allegheny County attorney Michael E. Flaherty. That resignation statement is under seal. The disbarment will take effect Feb. 14.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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