Former chief law clerk testifies in Orie Melvin trial

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The former chief law clerk for now-suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin testified this morning that she knew she shouldn't have done campaign work for the woman.

"I'm ashamed of it. I'm embarrassed I got involved," Lisa Sasinoski said. "When it started, it seemed harmless enough."

She worked for Joan Orie Melvin for several years before 2003 -- one of the years the prosecution is focused on in the ongoing criminal trial of the justice and her sister, Janine Orie. They are accused of theft of services and conspiracy, among other counts, for using the judge's judicial staff and the staff of another sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, to run for the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009.

Ms. Sasinoski told the jury of nine women and three men that campaign work for the high court race in 2003 started in January with the writing of letters to Pennsylvania Republican committee member and continued with Lincoln Day dinners, speech-writing and the completion of political questionnaires.

Repeatedly, Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus asked Ms. Sasinoski why she did the campaign work.

"Did you have any qualms about doing political or campaign-related work?" he asked.

"Yes, I did, because we were not allowed to," she answered.

Later, Ms. Sasinoski continued, "I was hoping the light at the end of the tunnel was this will be done soon and hopefully there wouldn't be any more campaigning."

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


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