Report: Convicted Pa. SC justice could lose state pension

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 14, 2013

PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) -- Suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, who was found guilty of corruption last month, now could lose her state pension.

The Associated Press reported this week that Melvin qualifies for a maximum annual pension of nearly $140,000.

According to the AP, she could lose her pension once she is sentenced in May.

Under Pennsylvania's pension law, officials who commit certain crimes must forfeit their pensions.

However, State Employees' Retirement System spokeswoman Heather Tyler told the AP Wednesday that no action has been taken in Melvin's case because she has not applied for benefits.

Last month, Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie, were found guilty of corruption for using the justice's office staff to perform campaign work in 2003 and 2009.

Melvin and Orie were also found guilty of theft of services, conspiracy and misapplication of government funds. In addition, Orie was convicted of tampering with evidence and solicitation.

One count -- official oppression -- against Melvin could not be decided by the jury. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus declared the jurors hung on that count.

Melvin's sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, was convicted on similar public corruption charges last year and subsequently sentenced to 2 and 1/2 to 10 years in state prison.

Melvin, who was suspended in May by the state's high court, will remain suspended without pay from the court pending action by Pennsylvania's Court of Judicial Discipline -- the disciplinary body for state court judges.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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