Supreme Court: Judge can't refuse pay raise

By Nick Rees | Sep 30, 2008

Joan Orie Melvin (R)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) --A Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge has been told by the State Supreme Court, in a one sentence ruling, that she cannot refuse an 11 percent pay raise.

Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin, citing moral convictions, sued the state court system in October 2006 to turn down the 2005 legislative pay raise. The raise, changing her salary from $145,658 to $162,100, was repealed in November 2005 due to public criticism but was then reinstated for 1,100 state judges by the Supreme Court in September 2006.

The state Supreme Court, in their ruling, said Orie Melvin could instead give the money to charity. She has been sending the extra money to the state's General Fund. However, as she must accept the check, she must now pay taxes on it.

Her brother, Jack Orie, a Pittsburgh attorney, has argued that the money she has paid in federal taxes by being forced to accept the raise could have instead gone to the state had she not received the money.

Judge Orie Melvin, a native of Pittsburgh, attended the University of Notre Dame, receiving a B.A. in Economics in 1978. She got her J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 1981. After four years in a private law practice, she was appointed Magistrate for the City of Pittsburgh Municipal Courts and became Chief Magistrate in 1987.

Following a vacancy in 1990, she was appointed Judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and was elected to a full term in 1991. She was elected to the Superior Court in November 1997 and retained for a subsequent ten year term in November 2007.

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