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Report: Pa. SC justice, court workers ask to throw out Melvin subpoenas

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 18, 2012



PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) - A fellow Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and a group of court administrators contend they shouldn't have to testify at a preliminary hearing for suspended Justice Joan Orie Melvin this month.

The state's high court suspended Melvin in May in the wake of pending charges that she allegedly used her office staff to perform campaign work.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for Justice Max Baer and the court workers asked an Allegheny County Commons Pleas Court judge to throw out subpoenas filed by Melvin's attorneys, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

According to the newspaper, the subpoenas would require them to not only appear at the July 30 hearing but also produce various documents, including personnel files and employment records for as far back as 25 years.

A. Taylor Williams, who is representing Baer and the workers, argues that the documents Melvin's attorneys requested are "overly broad."

According to the Tribune-Review, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. filed a similar motion Monday.

In a May 18 order, the state Supreme Court said it made the decision to suspend Melvin after being notified by Zappala's office of the criminal charges being filed against her.

Melvin was charged 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.

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.

Jane Orie was convicted of similar charges and sentenced to 2 1/2 to 10 years in prison. Janine Orie's trial, however, is still pending.

Also Tuesday, the state's high court issued a one-page order denying a request by Melvin to hold this month's hearing outside Allegheny County.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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