Orie Melvin drops sentencing appeal

By Jim Boyle | Oct 29, 2014

Former State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin notified the court Monday that she

will resume her sentence after dropping an appeal to one aspect of a court order.

Melvin was convicted in February 2013 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. Melvin was sentenced to three years house arrest and two years probation, plus the payment of $128,000 in fines and court costs.

The sentencing also ordered Melvin to write apology letters to members of her staff and every judge in the Commonwealth. Martin’s attorneys argued in the appeal that the letters denied their client of her Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate herself while she continued to maintain her innocence during the appeals process.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that Orie Melvin's entire sentence would be stayed during the appeal, including the house arrest and probation, not just the letter-writing portion.

“A challenge to one of several interdependent sentences is, in effect, a challenge to the entire sentencing plan,” the court said in its opinion.

With the sentencing appeal dropped, Orie Melvin submitted the two letters that would be sent to her former staff and the state judiciary. 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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