Attorneys for Orie Melvin file briefs in effort to win new trial

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Defense attorneys for former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin accuse the commonwealth of sidestepping or ignoring the law in a brief filed this week in the state Superior Court.

The 49-page document is in response to a brief filed by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office last month.

“The Commonwealth does not and cannot offer an effective response to the various claims of error but instead either ignores the controlling authority cited by Orie Melvin or sidesteps the relevant issue,” defense attorneys wrote.

The defense is seeking a new trial and sentence for Orie Melvin, who was found guilty last year for theft of services, conspiracy and misapplication of government property.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus sentenced her to three years house arrest and also ordered her to send a photograph of herself in handcuffs with an apology note to every judge in the state as part of her punishment.

However, in November he stayed his own sentence while Orie Melvin’s appeal plays out.

The defense has argued that requiring the apology violates Orie Melvin’s right against self-incrimination.

Among the issues raised by the defense include that there was no basis for criminal charges and that the allegations against her involved a violation of Supreme Court policy; that she should not have been tried at the same time as her sister, administrative assistant Janine Orie; that the case should have been tried by a judge outside of Allegheny County; and that the court erred in a number of evidentiary issues involved in the case.

Further, Orie Melvin accuses Judge Nauhaus of “intemperance” during the trial that prohibited her from receiving a fair trial.

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