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Report: Lawyers for suspended Pa. SC justice seeking probation

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 17, 2013

PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) -- Lawyers for suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin are asking she receive a sentence of probation.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Monday that Melvin's lawyers, along with prosecutors, filed briefs with the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on the justice's upcoming sentencing.

Judge Lester Nauhaus will sentence Melvin May 7.

Melvin's lawyers said her history of public service and as a strong wife and mother warrant probation -- not 30-48 months incarceration, which is what prosecutors are seeking.

In February, 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. 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 resigned her seat on the state's high court last month.

In a news release, the court said her resignation is effective May 1.

Until a successor is qualified, the court said it will continue to operate with six justices.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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