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Report: Former Pa. SC justice refuses to write apology letters

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 17, 2013

PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) -- Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, who was convicted of corruption, refuses to write letters of apology to members of her staff and family members.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Melvin argues that doing so violates her privilege against self-incrimination.

However, the letters are required under her sentence.

In May, Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Lester Nauhaus gave Melvin three years of house arrest and ordered her to serve in a soup kitchen.

In addition, Nauhaus ordered Melvin to write letters of apology to members of her staff and family members, and send a photo of herself along with the letters.

The judge also ordered Melvin to send the letters to each member of the state's judiciary and her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie's staff.

Melvin has since asked the Pennsylvania Superior Court to stay that portion of her sentence after Nauhaus refused. The court granted the stay, the Post-Gazette reported.

Last week, prosecutors argued in response that if the former justice refuses to send the letters, she should be resentenced and receive jail time.

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.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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