Jim Boyle Nov. 6, 2014, 8:24pm


Former Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has been ordered back to house arrest

while she rewrites court-mandated apology letters to the entire Pennsylvania judiciary after an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge rejected her first attempt.

Judge Lester Nauhaus called the first drafts generic and unsatisfactory, saying Orie Melvin failed to show any kind of humility following her convictions of public corruption charges relating to the use of her government staff members to help her 2003 and 2009 election campaigns for the state Supreme Court.

She has been ordered to personalize each letter and write them herself, which will then require Nauhaus' approval before they are sent out.

Orie Melvin filed an appeal to the apology portion of her sentence, arguing that writing the letters would violate her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself while she appealed the original 2013 conviction. After the Supreme Court ruled that her entire sentence, including three years of house arrest and two years of probation, would be stayed while the appeals process went forward, Orie Melvin dropped the matter and submitted the apologies to the judiciary and her former staff members.

In the content of the notes, Orie Melvin is careful to inform that she had been found guilty of the offenses, but not actually admit to any wrongdoing.

“I was afforded a trial and I was found guilty,” she writes. “I have now exhausted my direct appeal rights. As a matter of law, I am guilty of these offenses.”

Orie Melvin apologizes to her staff for any difficulty the case may have caused them. and to the state judges for any interference into their roles the issue may have caused.

“In reflection,” the letter to the judiciary continues, “I wish I had been more diligent in my supervision of my staff and that I had given them more careful instructions with respect to the prohibition on political activity set forth in the Supreme Court’s Order dated November 24, 1998.”

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