'Arrogant, power-abusing' ex-justice should apologize as ordered, prosecutor says

An “arrogant, power-abusing” former Pennsylvania justice won’t change her ways unless she apologizes as ordered by a sentencing judge—in letters accompanied by a photo of herself in handcuffs, according to a brief filed by a deputy district attorney.

Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin contends that making an apology while her appeal is pending will violate her right against self-incrimination, report Trib Live and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Her lawyer calls the apology punishment “bizarre and abusive and plainly outside the scope of authority granted to a sentencing court.”

Melvin was sentenced in May after her conviction for using staffers in political campaigns. Judge Lester Nauhaus of Allegheny County sentenced Melvin to three years of house arrest and two years of probation, fined her $55,000, and ordered her to volunteer at a soup kitchen and to send written letters of apology to Pennsylvania judges, accompanied by the photo.

Melvin obtained an emergency stay of the apology requirement last week from the Pennsylvania Superior Court when she learned that Nauhaus might conduct a probation-violation hearing.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Streily wrote that the apology letters are central to the judge’s sentencing scheme. “It is clear that Judge Nauhaus found that appellant’s criminality was fueled by her arrogance and willingness to abuse power, and that appellant’s arrogance is something that must be addressed in order for her rehabilitation to be successful,” he wrote.

If Melvin doesn’t send the letters, the judge should be allowed to consider a prison sentence, Streily said. He also argued that Melvin already apologized in court and the letters require her only to write the words she spoke in court.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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