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Monday, May 21, 2012

Top State Supreme Court Judge Arrested

Justice Joan Orie Melvin to step away from state Supreme Court to fight charges
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Paula Reed Ward  -  May 18, 2012

State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin surrendered to authorities this afternoon to face nine criminal counts pertaining to her alleged use of state resources for campaign purposes.  She arrived at City Court, Downtown, at 1:40 p.m., accompanied by her brother, attorney Jack Orie, and one of her daughters, Casey Melvin.  "I am a woman of faith," Justice Melvin said after she was released without bond following a video arraignment. "My strong faith in God is the cornerstone of my life. My faith will see me through this."  She denied the allegations against her.  "I entered a plea of not guilty today and I will vigorously defend these politically motivated charges," she said. "The voters overwhelmingly sent me to the Supreme Court and I will not resign because of these politically motivated charges."  She took no questions after speaking, walking briskly to a waiting car.  Allegheny County assistant district attorney Lawrence N. Claus called Justice Melvin's comments "disingenuous."  "It is somewhat disappointing to hear the same old rhetoric," he said.  Hours later, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board filed formal charges against state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and requested her interim suspension.  The suspension is a moot point, however, as she had already volunteered to step down this morning, and the state Supreme Court issued an additional order requiring her suspension.  According to a letter Justice Melvin's attorney submitted to Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, she said she would recuse.  "In order to avoid the appearance of impropriety and in accordance with precedent, Justice Orie Melvin is voluntarily recusing herself from all judicial duties pending resolution of the criminal charges," wrote William I. Arbuckle III, who has been representing the justice in a pending Judicial Conduct Board investigation.  He continued, "She is not resigning from the court. The justice denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend these politically motivated criminal charges."

Justice Melvin was identified as a target of the grand jury in December. The charges include three counts of theft of services, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, two counts of official oppression and one count each of criminal conspiracy to commit theft of services and misapplication of entrusted property of government.  Mr. Arbuckle hopes that because the justice has voluntarily stepped aside the Judicial Conduct Board and Court of Judicial Discipline will suspend proceedings until the criminal case is resolved.  Typically, that is the case.  Unless action is taken, it is likely that Justice Mevlin will continue to receive her pay. If the charges against her are bound over to Common Pleas Court at a preliminary hearing -- likely within the next several weeks -- she would be placed on leave without pay.  If Justice Melvin prevails in the case, she would receive back pay.  According to a 75-page grand jury presentment, the charges include allegations against Justice Melvin between 2003 and 2009.  "It now appears that not only was Justice Orie Melvin directly and knowingly involved in using state paid staffers from both the judicial and legislative branches of the Pennsylvania government in her political campaign activities, but it also appears that she was aided in those endeavors by two accomplices, co-conspirator and siblings -- Janine Mary Orie and Jane Clare Orie," according to the presentment.  Two sisters, state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, and Janine Orie were charged in April 2010 with misusing the senator's legislative staff to do campaign work. Janine Orie worked for the justice from 1997 until 2010.  Jane Orie was convicted on 14 of 24 criminal counts in March and will be sentenced June 4. Janine Orie's case was severed and is scheduled for August.  Mr. Claus said if prosecutors can move the case beyond a preliminary hearing, Justice Melvin's case could be tried together with Janine Orie's.  The Judicial Conduct Board, which began an investigation into Justice Melvin several months ago, late today issued a formal complaint against her, incorporating much of the information from the grand jury presentment.  It requests from the Court of Judicial Discipline interim suspension with pay, listing a number of allegations, including that Justice Melvin failed to fulfill her administrative responsibilities in supervising her staff, because judicial employees are forbidden in any way from engaging in political or campaign activities.  "The pending felony criminal charges against Justice Orie Melvin undermine both public confidence in the judiciary and its reputation."  If convicted on any felony counts, the board asks that the court convert it to a suspension without pay.  Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620.




Anonymous said...

New York has plenty of judges in need of prosecution. NY has Official Misconduct as only a misdemeanor offense and the CJC's apologist,Tembeckjian, acting to excuse judicial crimes, while the NY media and, specifically, the NY Times to cover it up. This Pennsylvania judge uses religious piety as her first scoundrel's refuge. In New York, judges hide behind political piety.
Want to begin prosecution, NY AG Scheiderman: announce a Grand Jury will be investigating judicial crime everywhere in NY State and publicly ask any and all witnesses to come before that Grand Jury to present evidence and testimony. Maybe, Gov. Cuomo will direct the AG to convene such a Grand Jury.

Anonymous said...

The so - called Special Prosecutor and Grand Jury in NY for Judicial branch corruption has been "coming" for so long by the time this person or entity ever emerges, if it even does, then most everything will be tossed for statute of limitation problems so nothing will really get done and nothing change.

Anonymous said...

Oh but a few selected individuals or entities may get to have a press release to show that something happened when in fact most of everything passed by the way side.

jails4judges said...

Joan may have been charged, to get to this point she did something to somebody who pulled the rug out from under her and now she's in this mess and that's the way the system takes 'care' of someone who gets too big for their own good. Will fellow attorneys beat her up totally? We think not, because the system doesn't need it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Big, big Corporate money is keeping the Gov. and Feds from caring about cleaning up any corruption..but esp. JUDICIAL CORRUPTION.
Federal and State Cts are just plain old laundry..... for big money and bad Government.
This will have to be a people's movement exclusively..when the people are not split up by rulers like Gov. Cuomo, Mayors of this state and all the rulers in government of every state in this union..who are slickly participating in divide and conquer methods of control.
When the public makes any attempt to protest longer than a few hours they face arrests and dismantling of their sites...and praise for that process includes readers and writers within this blog, buying into the divide and conquer.
The super rich of this country have inflicted mental manipulation upon the freightened middle class.
Reform will not come from any Government entity will come only when you get involved and if that means sitting at your computer..then use that device to counter what this country is doing to its citizens!

Anonymous said...

Whoever did this should come to New York City (State) they could arrest hundreds of so-called Judges. It would be a party and get much more press

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