Panel rules suspended Pa. Supreme Court justice should not be paid

Joan Orie Melvin awaiting trial on criminal charges

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The Court of Judicial Discipline, citing conduct "so egregious," ruled Thursday that suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin should not receive pay as she awaits the outcome of criminal charges against her.

"[W]e see this respondent as so single-mindedly occupied with achieving personal aggrandizement that she pressured, intimidated and bullied her clerks and secretaries into performing work on her political campaigns," wrote President Judge Robert E.J. Curran in a 5-1 opinion.

He characterized that bullying as "relentless."

Justice Orie Melvin was removed from the bench the day criminal charges were filed against her in May, alleging that she used her judicial staff to campaign in both 2003 and 2009 for a spot on the state's high court. At the time, the suspension allowed her to continue to receive her $195,309 annual salary.

Attorneys for the state Judicial Conduct Board argued that the seriousness of the felony charges against Justice Orie Melvin was enough to warrant suspension without pay.

Her attorney argued that precedent showed that it was rare for suspension to occur without pay, and that the criminal charges against the justice are weak.

But Judge Curran disagreed, instead writing that testimony from the preliminary hearing revealed a record "brimming" with evidence that Justice Orie Melvin knew her staff was involved in campaign work.

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First Published August 30, 2012 11:45 PM


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