Restoring confidence: A suspended justice must forfeit her pay
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Suspended Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has not yet had her day in court on criminal charges that she used state-paid staff to do political work.
But, after reviewing grand jury testimony and the case brought by the Allegheny County district attorney, Pennsylvania's Court of Judicial Discipline ruled 5-1 that her suspension, which began in May, must be without pay.
To a public grown weary and cynical with the recent parade of Pennsylvania officials sent to prison for corruption, the decision is welcome.
President Judge Robert E. J. Curran, in writing the opinion filed Thursday, didn't hold back on why Ms. Orie Melvin should be thrown off the payroll. He wrote that she was "so singlemindedly occupied with achieving personal aggrandizement that she pressured, intimidated and bullied her clerks and secretaries into performing work on her political campaigns in violation of a pledge each made as a condition of their employment."
The opinion said the bullying was "relentless," posing a difficult choice for the state employees: either obey the justice and risk being fired by the court or disobey her commands and risk being fired by Ms. Orie Melvin.
Judge Curran said that only by cutting off her pay did the disciplinary court have "any prospect of ameliorating the harm to the public's confidence in the judicial system."
Average Pennsylvanians, who want government to work for them and not for politicians, couldn't agree more.
First Published September 4, 2012 12:00 am