Convicted Orie Melvin resigns from Pennsylvania Supreme Court

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin submitted her resignation today, a month after she was convicted on public corruption charges.

Ms. Orie Melvin is due to be sentenced May 7 and in a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett said "it is with deep regret and a broken heart" that she tendered her resignation, effective May 1. "It has been my honor and privilege to serve the people of this Commonwealth for the past 28 years, and I am deeply saddened that I am not able to fulfill my commission."

Gov. Corbett can appoint an interim justice to fill her spot on the seven-member court, with the approval of two-thirds of the state Senate. The appointee would serve through January 2016. The court is currently split 3-3 between Republicans and Democrats and Ms. Orie Melvin is a Republican.

The justice still plans to appeal her conviction.

A jury found the justice and her sister Janine Orie guilty on Feb. 21 of using judicial staff, as well as the staffers of another sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, to work on the justice's campaigns in 2003 and 2009 for the Pennsylvania high court. Ms. Orie Melvin, 56, was found guilty on six of seven counts against her, including conspiracy, theft of services and misapplication of government funds.

With Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Lester Nauhaus scheduled to sentence the justice May 7 there was speculation when or if Ms. Orie would resign or be forced off the bench by the judge, the Court of Judicial Discipline or through impeachment.

Former Sen. Orie was convicted of similar counts to those facing her sisters in March 2012 -- as well as separate forgery counts related to documents submitted at trial -- and sentenced to 2 1/2 to 10 years in state prison.

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Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com.


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