PITTSBURGH (AP) — Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin’s trial judge has postponed a decision on whether to delay her entire sentence while she appeals her conviction.
Allegheny County Judge Lester Nauhaus is angry because Melvin’s attorneys got the Superior Court to delay only a portion of her campaign corruption sentence requiring her to send autographed apologies on pictures of herself in handcuffs to other state judges.
Nauhaus imposed that measure to shame Melvin for what he called her “stunning arrogance” for using her state-paid former Superior Court staffers — and those of her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie — to run her political campaigns.
At a hearing Thursday, Nauhaus argued Melvin must either serve her entire sentence —which also includes three years’ house arrest and a $55,000 fine — or none of it during the appeal.
Melvin’s attorney, Patrick Casey, objected, contending Nauhaus has no jurisdiction over the case, and no ability to change any part of the sentence, while the appeal is pending.
Casey was also clear about Nauhaus suspending Melvin’s entire sentence during her appeal, because she’ll still have to serve it if she loses.
If the sentence remains in force, Melvin continues to get credit for serving the sentence, meaning it will expire sooner.
Nauhaus had planned to rule on the matter Thursday, but postponed that until this morning so he could research the issue in the meantime.
Casey and Melvin have objected to the apologies written on photographs, calling them “bizarre and abusive” and also amount to requiring Melvin to incriminate herself while the appeals are pending.
Melvin, 57, was sentenced in May after being convicted along with another sister and former aide, Janine Orie, 59, of directing Melvin’s state-paid Superior Court staff to campaign for her.
Former Sen. Jane Orie, was convicted last year and sentenced by a different county judge to 2ﾽ to 10 years in prison for using her own state-paid staff on her own campaigns, and introducing forged documents that prompted a mistrial.
Jane Orie was acquitted of charges that she ordered her staff to work on Melvin’s campaigns.