Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin should be forced to write letters of apology to sitting judges and her former employees because, otherwise, the risk is high she will remain an “arrogant, power abusing, convicted felon,” an Allegheny County deputy district attorney handling appeals on her case told the state Superior Court on Tuesday.
The appellate court last week issued a temporary stay of a portion of Melvin’s sentence ordering her to send letters of apology to her former staff and sitting judges accompanied by a picture of her in handcuffs. She was also sentenced to three years’ house arrest, two years’ probation and ordered to work at a soup kitchen three days a week.
Her attorneys, Dan Brier and Pat Casey, did not return calls for comment.
In a maritime-themed response, Deputy District Attorney Michael W. Streily argued that Melvin, 57, of Marshall — convicted by a jury for using her judicial staff to run her election campaigns in 2003 and 2009 — already “launched the proverbial ship” by issuing an apology in court. Streily said sending letters of apology “is asking nothing more than to add another Port of Call to the appellant’s rehabilitative journey.”
Streily said Melvin isn’t being forced to make an admission of guilt, only to write the words she spoke in court onto the photograph.
“She will suffer no injury if she complies with Judge Nauhaus’ directive,” he said.
Melvin, he said, “was the captain of the ship, which was her judicial chambers. That ship sank and a lot of people were injured because of appellant’s criminal conduct. The agency for which Joan Orie Melvin worked has had its reputation tarnished. “
Melvin is among one of three Orie sisters convicted in Allegheny County for using political office for personal gain.
A jury convicted former state Sen. Jane Orie, 41, of McCandless in March 2012 of forgery, conflict or interest and theft of services. She is serving 2 1/2 to 10 years in prison.
A third sister, Janine Orie, 54, of McCandless, is serving one year of house arrest for her role in her sisters’ schemes.