Justice Orie Melvin's office worked hard, defense witness says

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The defense for suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin continued this morning with a number of witnesses who testified that they did not see campaign work happening in her judicial office and that professionals handled the political activity.

Robert Woods, a law clerk for Justice Orie Melvin in 2009, said her staff worked hard to get its tasks done as evidenced by internal court statistics with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

"We were at, or near, the top, and everyone prided themselves as being as diligent as possible," he said.

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus questioned Mr. Woods about the quality of work, including how lengthy then-Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin's opinions were.

The defense has argued that her chambers got its work done and was above average in the number of opinions written.

Justice Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie, are charged with theft of services, conspiracy and other counts related to the 2003 and 2009 Supreme Court races.

Mr. Woods testified that he didn't see campaign signs in chambers, but there were articles and faxes stacked up.

"Obviously, the judge was running a campaign," he said. "We knew she was campaigning."

Scott Migli, who works for a polling research firm, said he worked with Justice Orie Melvin from November 2008 until February 2009 as she sought the Republican Party endorsement.

He said he was responsible for the production of palm cards during that time and did not seek help from either the judge's judicial staff or the legislative staff of her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie.

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Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. First Published February 12, 2013 12:30 AM


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