On Friday, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvil was charged with nine criminal counts over using her taxpayer-funded staff on her campaign for a seat on the Supreme Court. She was suspended from the bench upon recommendation by a grand jury in Common Pleas Court in Allegheny County in Western Pennsylvania.
A member of a high profile political family of Pennsylvania Joan is the third sister to be charged of corruption. Another sister, State Senator Jane Orie, who used to serve as majority whip, was convicted for using her taxpayer-funded legislative staff to help her in her campaign. Another sister, Janine, would be facing trial on August 13 for using her sisters’ judicial and legislative staffs to campaign for Orie Melvin.
A lawyer for the accused judge said that she had recused herself from all her judicial duties but had no intention to resign. The lawyer said that the Orie sisters were being politically targeted and he said “The justice denies any criminal wrongdoing and will vigorously defend these politically motivated criminal charges.”
Judicial staff members who had worked for the judge testified that they wrote her campaign speeches, maintained and looked after her database of campaign contributions and filled out questionnaires for endorsements from political action committees. They allege that they also attended political functions with Orie Melvin.
The criminal complaint against Melvin include charges like theft of services, criminal conspiracy to commit tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, official oppression and misapplication of entrusted property of the government.
The grand jury report posted on the website of the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office website mentions that the judge “directly and knowingly” used members of her judicial staff and her sister’s legislative staff to pursue a seat on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009.
Well, its election year, and the scandals would keep on coming and being discovered.