Deliberations Continue In Criminal Case Against Suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice
By: John A. Schwab
The jury is still out – quite literally – in the criminal case against suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie. The pair is accused of using Orie Melvin’s staff, all of whom were state employees, for political and fundraising purposes during her 2003 and 2009 election campaigns for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Orie Melvin was a judge in Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2003 and in 2009. Although she lost the 2003 election, Orie Melvin was elected to the highest court in 2009.
The evidence against Orie Melvin included testimony from her former law clerk as well as former aides, staffers, and fundraisers.
Soon thereafter, however, she was suspended after the criminal charges were presented in 2010 in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Janine Orie worked as an aide to her sister during her time in the Supreme Court and when she served as a Superior Court judge. A third sister, former state senator Jane Orie, is presently serving 2½ to 10 years in prison for similar crimes – theft of services based on her use of state employees for political fundraising and campaigning – following her conviction in March 2012.
The evidence against Orie Melvin included testimony from her former law clerk as well as former aides, staffers, and fundraisers. There was also testimony that she directed a secretary to delete computer files related to campaigning and fundraising events. Neither defendant testified during the defense’s case. The trial began on January 25 and just concluded this past Friday. The jury deliberations began immediately and, after a brief respite for the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, began again on Tuesday. Deliberations ended last night at 3:30 p.m. and are expected to begin at 9:00 a.m. this morning.