PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Prosecutors tried to paint a conspiracy among sisters during the first day of the corruption trial for suspended State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie-Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie. But the sisters’ lawyers say that is not true.
Orie-Melvin and her sister appeared confident on the first day of their trial; a trial that could land them in jail for many years if convicted. So far, Janine Orie is pleased.
KDKA’s Paul Martino: “How do you think the first day went?”
Janine Orie: “I think it went well.”
But in the courtroom, prosecutor Lawrence Claus outlined for jurors an alleged conspiracy. He told jurors how former state senator Jane Orie, Justice Orie-Melvin and Janine Orie worked together to run political campaigns with staff paid by taxpayers.
That’s not true says Orie-Melvin’s attorney who forcefully told jurors: “Joan Orie-Melvin is innocent. We have been waiting a long time to say that. She did not commit the crimes.”
Jane Orie, the former state senator, has already been convicted in the case. That doesn’t bother Janine Orie’s attorney.
“Janine Orie is not Sen. Jane Orie,” said James DePasquale, Janine Orie’s attorney. “It’s a very defensible case. I think we’ve got a good jury. I think we’re in good shape.”
Meanwhile, suspended State Supreme Court Justice Orie-Melvin isn’t talking about the serious allegations against her.
The judge sent jurors home early on Friday afternoon because of the winter weather outside. They’ll resume Monday at 9:30 a.m.