PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Reports that State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has been called before an investigating grand jury have led some to ask her to step aside from the high court.
Now, another group joined the chorus.
With ongoing reports that Orie Melvin is under investigation by a grand jury, the chorus is growing that she should temporarily decline to hear any more cases on the State Supreme Court.
“She should step aside until this controversy is resolved,” Paul Titus, of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, said.
Having practiced law for nearly 50 years, Titus – a Pittsburgh attorney – has argued countless cases before the United States and State Supreme Court. He says even though Orie Melvin must be presumed innocent, there’s another issue at stake.
“With investigations pending and public controversy, there’s another principle involved – and that is protecting the public’s trust and confidence in the courts – and she should step aside, temporarily, until that is resolved,” said Titus.
Titus, speaking for Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, says it’s not the case against Satte Sen. Jane Orie and their sister, Janine, that motivates this call, rather the grand jury investigation into the Justice’s own wrong-doing.
“It’s very important that judges and justices of the court maintain public confidence in the courts,” he said.
Titus says it’s not enough that Orie Melvin is no longer hearing Allegheny County criminal cases.
“I think that is a good move on her part, but it is not sufficient,” he said. “I think it would be better if she were not sitting until this matter is resolved.”
Orie Melvin could step aside on her own; but if she does not, Titus hopes her colleagues on the court take action.
Unlike her sisters, whose trial is set for late February, Orie Melvin has not been charged with anything. But that hasn’t stopped the calls for her to step aside – to take leave with pay – not resign.
The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper was the latest to issue that call today. There’s no indication that Orie Melvin will do anything.
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