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Judge Accuses Orie Melvin’s Defense Of Not Following Rules At Probation Violation Hearing

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – At a probation hearing today, former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her attorney Patrick Casey endured the wrath of Judge Lester Nauhaus.

He accused the defense of not following the rules by not filing proper written notices of appeals.

At issue, the part of the sentence that requires Orie Melvin to write letters of apology to state judges along with a picture of her in handcuffs. Her sentence of home arrest, and working at soup kitchens has been complied with.

But the defense filed an appeal to Superior Court, which put that temporarily on hold.

The judge was not pleased and not too subtlety threatened jail.

“This case is a mess,” said Nauhaus, often raising his voice. “The stunning arrogance of trying to cherry pick which parts of the sentence they want to comply with and which parts they don’t want to comply with. If that part of the sentence is unconstitutional, why isn’t the whole sentence unconstitutional? Do you want me to resentence your client?”

“No, your honor,” replied Casey.

Back in May, Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine, were sentenced to, among other things, house arrest for illegally using her state paid court staff to do political work.

And the $127,000 in fines, to be paid from Orie Melvin’s contributions to the pension fund were just paid last week. The judge accused the defense of dragging their feet; they say it was a complicated process of getting pension administrators to comply.

In the end, the appeal on the letter issue put any further action on hold.

Janine Orie’s lawyer sees it this way:

“If they addressed it against us then the letters of apology would be sent,” said James DePasquale, “and I just didn’t think it was all that big of an issue, but Judge Nauhaus, he views it the way he views it and he’s a judge and he’s entitled to deference.”

Nauhaus scheduled another hearing for December.

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