Attorney for suspended Justice Orie Melvin highlights witness' inconsistencies

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The attorney for suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin started his cross-examination of a key witness against her by pointing out inconsistencies in her previous testimony.

The former chief of staff for now imprisoned state Sen. Jane Orie testified on Monday that she removed two boxes of political material from the senator's legislative office on Nov. 1, 2009, because she was worried that it showed there had been campaign work conducted there.

But in her first interview with investigators from the Allegheny County District Attorney's office on Nov. 23, 2009, Jamie Pavlot said she removed the files after having a conversation with a woman from state Sen. Jay Costa's office about how she needed the material at home to work on Sen. Orie's 2010 election.

"The process they put me through was extremely intimidating," Ms. Pavlot said, trying to explain her answer. "I had never been through anything like this. I was scared."

"You didn't say you took them home because you were concerned or worried?" defense attorney Dan Brier asked.

"No," Ms. Pavlot said.

During the senator's preliminary hearing on July 19, 2010, Ms. Pavlot again testified that she removed the boxes to work on them at home.

She repeated that same information during testimony Feb. 23, 2011.

Also this morning, Ms. Pavlot told the jury of nine women and three men hearing the corruption trial of Justice Orie Melvin and another sister, Janine Orie, that it was her decision to remove the two boxes from the senate office.

"My client, Joan Orie, didn't ask you to do that, did she?" Mr. Brier asked.

"No, sir," Ms. Pavlot answered.

She answered the same way when asked if either Jane Orie or Janine Orie instructed her to do so.

Ms. Pavlot turned the boxes over to her own attorney, Stephen S. Stallings on Nov. 6, 2009.

After that, Ms. Pavlot said, she took additional files from the senate office by hiding them under her coat.

"Were you removing files out of the office under your coat after you were meeting with the district attorney?" Mr. Brier asked.

"Yes," Ms. Pavlot answered. "The senator told me to."

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Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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