Pa. SC justice Melvin suspended amid pending charges

By Jessica M. Karmasek | May 18, 2012



PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has suspended Justice Joan Orie Melvin in the wake of pending charges that she allegedly used her office staff to perform campaign work.

The Court said Friday the decision was made after receiving notification from the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in a statement that Melvin will be charged Friday with nine criminal counts, including three counts of theft of services, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, two counts of official oppression, and one count each of criminal conspiracy to commit theft of services and misapplication of entrusted property of government.

Zappala said Melvin was expected to surrender herself the same day.

"In view of the compelling and immediate need to protect and preserve the integrity of the Unified Judicial System and the administration of justice for the citizens of this Commonwealth, Madame Justice Orie Melvin is hereby relieved of any and all judicial and administrative responsibilities as a justice and is not to take any further administrative or judicial action whatsoever in any case or proceeding now or hereinafter pending in this Court until further order of this Court," the state's high court wrote in its one-page per curiam order.

The charges against Melvin follow those of her sisters, state Sen. Jane Orie and Janine Orie.

Both were investigated for using state employees for political work, similar to Melvin.

The sisters were eventually indicted and tried together. However, a mistrial was declared.

According to The Legal Intelligencer, Jane Orie was found guilty in March of 14 of the 24 corruption charges she faced. She is awaiting sentencing next month.

Janine Orie's trial is still pending, the Intelligencer reported.

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

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