Report: Judge to resentence former Pa. SC justice

By Jessica M. Karmasek | May 13, 2013

PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) -- The judge who sentenced former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin to what some have deemed an unusual sentence last week has now ordered that Melvin be resentenced.

The Legal Intelligencer reported late Friday that Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Lester Nauhaus did not provide a reason for the resentencing.

However, the judge told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the resentencing is a matter of technicality.

Last week, Nauhaus gave Melvin three years of house arrest.

He told the Post-Gazette that he intended to sentence her to three one-year terms of house arrest to run consecutively.

"It is absolutely form over substance," the judge explained to the newspaper. "My sentence has to pass muster with the appellate courts."

Melvin's resentencing hearing is set for Tuesday.

In addition to house arrest, Nauhaus ordered Melvin, who was convicted of corruption, to write letters of apology to members of her staff and family members.

The judge ordered her to send a photo of herself along with the apology letters.

In addition to members of her staff and family, Nauhaus ordered Melvin to send the letters to each member of the state's judiciary and her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie's staff.

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 also were 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.

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 in March. Her resignation was effective May 1.

Last week, Nauhaus ordered Janine Orie to one year of house arrest and to write similar letters of apology to members of Melvin's staff and those members of Jane Orie's staff.

As for the former justice, Nauhaus also ordered her to serve in a soup kitchen.

Until a successor is qualified, the state's high court has said it will continue to operate with six justices.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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