Suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin will be tried on seven of the nine charges against her, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
District Judge James J. Hanley, Jr. dismissed two charges, one count of official oppression and one count of criminal solicitation, citing a lack of evidence to support them. Melvin’s formal arraignment date is August 14, a day she is also set to be in front of the state Court of Judicial Discipline. The Judges will decide whether Melvin will continue to receive her $195,309 salary.
Melvin’s lawyers maintain that it was not Melvin who directed employees to do political work on state time, but rather her sister, former state senator Janine Orie. Orie faces similar charges, based on accusations that she directed employees to work on Melvin’s campaign.
According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, Senator Orie’s chief of staff Jamie Pavolt was asked about who directed the employees to do campaign work. Pavolt replied that although Senator Orie was her boss, “The dynamics of this family is, when you’re working for one member, you’re taking orders from all three.”
Defense attorneys attempted to show that Janine Orie was in fact not Melvin’s campaign manager. When the prosecutor called two women who worked on Melvin’s campaign to the stand, both confirmed that Orie was the office administrator, and “they never dealt with her on important campaign issues like strategy, opposition research, fundraising or polling,” the article said. Rather, they frequently spoke to Justice Orie Melvin herself.
To read more on Justice Joan Orie Melvin, see Gavel Grab.