Western Pennsylvania prosecutors want convicted state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie
Melvin to see the inside of a jail cell.
Assistant Allegheny County District Attorney Lawrence Claus recently filed a brief with the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court urging a trial judge to sentence Orie Melvin to time behind bars.
The justice’s lawyer, meanwhile, has apparently filed a petition seeking to have his client given probation.
“Citizens have a right to trust in the legal system and to expect that, above all others, those public officials who are elected to high office will discharge the duty to uphold the law with fidelity and not ride roughshod over the obligation as a public servant,” Claus wrote in his filing, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
An actual copy of the brief was not immediately available.
Orie Melvin, who resigned her post on the high court effective May 1, is scheduled to be sentenced during a hearing in front of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Lester Nauhaus on May 7.
The justice was recently convicted on public corruption charges relating to the campaign work she instructed her then-Superior Court staff to do on behalf of her run for a seat on the Supreme Court.
Janine Orie, Orie Melvin’s sister and a court aide to the justice, was also convicted at their joint public corruption trial on similar charges.
Former Pennsylvania state Sen. Jane Orie is currently in jail on public corruption charges as well.
The 56-year-old Orie Melvin was convicted at trial on theft of services and conspiracy charges.
The corruption scandal has led to calls from court reformers to revamp the way judges are chosen in the Keystone State.
Currently, all judges are chosen through bipartisan elections, with Pennsylvania being one of only a handful of states that chooses judges in this manner.
State Rep. Anthony Hardy Williams, a Democrat from Philadelphia, has introduced a bill in the House to move toward a “merit selection” system of choosing judges.
That bill remains in committee, although it has garnered the support of some fellow lawmakers and court reform advocates such as the group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.
As for Orie Melvin, Claus, the assistant district attorney, seeks a prison sentence for the justice of between 30 to 48 months, while Patrick Casey, a defense attorney representing Orie Melvin, apparently wants his client sentenced to probation due to her charitable work and dedication to public service, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Casey’s memorandum in support of his position, the newspaper reported, noted that Orie Melvin has participated in more than 8,000 appellate court decisions, returned more than $52,000 in cost of living increases and refused to accept a car allowance.