PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Jane Orie and her sister, Janine, were tried together in the corruption trial that ended in mistrial last year.
What caused the mistrial was a document presented by the defense that the prosecution says was forged. And since then, both face additional charges.
On Tuesday, Judge Jeffrey Manning ruled that the new charges make it such that the case against one could influence the case against the other, so he is separating the trials.
“If we had had the severance before the first trial, we wouldn’t be here right now quite frankly,” James DePasquale, Janine Orie’s attorney, said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that Janine Orie would have been found not guilty or wouldn’t have been tried at all.”
But looming large over these proceedings are reports that Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin is a target of a grand jury probe.
The supervising judge of the Allegheny County grand jury held a hearing Tuesday afternoon during which prosecutors, the spokesman for the DA’s office and an Associated Press reporter were subpoenaed to testify if necessary.
The defense wanted a special prosecutor to look into the alleged leaks, claiming prosecutors were responsible.
But Judge Joseph James ruled there was no need. He ruled against appointing a prosecutor or holding a hearing on the claims.
“I think that the judge was very clear that there was absolutely no basis upon the record that he could have done what the defense had asked and that is to appoint a special prosecutor to look into alleged grand jury leaks,” Lawrence Claus, a prosecutor, said.
“I have no intention at this time of seeking any appellate recourse,” William Costopoulos, Jane Orie’s attorney, said. “I’m accepting the order at this time and am going to prepare for trial.”
Jury selection for State Sen. Jane Orie’s re-trial is scheduled for the end of February. Janine Orie’s case may not be tried until the fall.