White-Collar Crime

Judge calls former state supreme court judge's apology letters 'unsatisfactory,' orders a do-over

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A convicted former justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court won’t have to volunteer at a soup kitchen, the judge overseeing her sentencing has decided.

But Joan Orie Melvin does have to send out new letters of apology, Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus ruled Tuesday. He described court-ordered letters her lawyer previously sent out to Melvin’s staff and the state’s judges as “unsatisfactory,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review.

“The attempt to have the defendant have any kind of humility has failed,” the judge said in explanation of eliminating the soup kitchen portion of Melvin’s sentence. He also dressed down Melvin’s lawyer, Patrick Casey, about letters in which Melvin stated: “As a matter of law, I am guilty of these offenses.” From now on, Nauhaus said he must approve all of the letters before they are sent.

Nauhaus also reinstated a three-year term of house arrest for Melvin. She had initially appealed the apology-letter requirement of her sentence, but dropped the challenge after the state supreme court ruled last month that she must either appeal her entire sentence or none of it.

Now 58, she was convicted of using her judicial staff, when she was on the superior court bench, in campaigning for a state supreme court seat. Two sisters, former Republican Sen. Jane Orie, 53, who also used her staff to help Melvin, and Janine Orie, 60, who worked for Melvin, were convicted in similar cases.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “State supreme court justice and sister are convicted in Pa. political corruption case”

ABAJournal.com: “Former Pennsylvania Justice Melvin drops appeal; DA questions her apology letters”

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