Orie Melvin Resigns

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has finally resigned in advance of her sentencing in early May.  She and two sisters were convicted in the past year of using their state offices, resources and staffs to run Orie Melvin’s two Supreme Court campaigns.  Former State Senator Jane Orie is already in prison.  Janine Orie was convicted with Orie Melvin in February.  The House Judiciary Committee was already advancing impeachment proceedings when the resignation was announced this week.

This leaves the Supreme Court divided 3-3 on partisan lines so any deadlocks will uphold whatever Superior and Commonwealth Court cases wind up in tie votes.  Gov. Corbett must now appoint someone to resume the eight years of the ten year term now vacated by Justice Orie Melvin.  The State Senate must approve that nominee by two thirds vote meaning the 27-23 GOP majority must gain bipartisan support to approve the Governor’s choice.  This means that person must be a moderate, at least.

Superior Court Judge Jack Panella of Bethlehem ran against Orie Melvin but was handicapped by her illegal use of state employees on her campaign.  He should be the obvious choice since he was the only candidate for the seat who ran a clean, legal campaign.

Joan Orie Melvin, Janine Orie Convicted

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was convicted today following four days of jury deliberations.  She was convicted of using government funds and staff to campaign for the Commonwealth’s highest court in both 2003 and 2009.  Her sister Janine Orie was also convicted.  The jury couldn’t come to agreement on one charge of official oppression.  The sisters can join former State Senator Jane Orie in state prison.  This is proof that the family which corrupts together gets to stay in prison together.  The Justice now must be removed from the Court and Gov. Corbett will appoint a replacement who will serve the balance of her ten year term.

I heard a lot of rumors about how the former Superior Court Judge was conducting her 2009 campaign and knew it was rife with corruption.  I wrote about some of those allegations at the time.

Panel Orders Orie Melvin’s Pay Stopped

Justice Joan Orie Melvin will no longer collect her $195,000+ salary while on trial for corruption.  The Court of Judicial Discipline determined her conduct was so “egregious” to necessitate the action.  While a Superior Court Judge she ordered and berated her staff to conduct campaign work in her chambers, on state time and with state resources.  Many legislators and staffers in the State House went to prison for doing the same thing yet, even during those BonusGate trials Orie Melvin had the hubris to do the very same thing while running for her Supreme Court seat.

Sister Janine Orie is also on trial for orchestrating the scheme and sister Jane Orie is in prison after surrendering her Senate seat after her conviction.  A few things seem common to the Orie sisters:  greed, hubris and corruption.

Justice Orie Melvin Steps Down, Facing Criminal Charges

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin suspended herself from all official duties today because she is to surrender on nine criminal counts this afternoon.  She is the third Orie sister to face indictment in a wide ranging corruption investigation by the Allegheny County District Attorney.  Interestingly Gov. Tom Corbett overlooked all of this while supposedly investigating the Republican Senate caucus.  State Sen. Jane Orie faces sentencing next month for her role in using taxpayer funded resources for political purposes.  Janine Orie is set to face trial for running Melvin’s two Court races from the Senator’s offices using state staff and offices.

The dark cloud hanging over Justice Melvin as those cases unraveled was dire and today she faces the consequences.  At 2 PM she will surrender on charges handed down by a grand jury.  Her court race in 2009 involved sister Janine running her campaign from sister Jane’s State Senate offices using that taxpayer paid staff.  Those staffers handled all facets of the campaign including speech writing, fundraising, driving the candidate and even working at the polls.  Part of the Senator’s charges included obstruction of justice for trying to eliminate campaign materials from her state office before search warrants could be exercised, an obvious cover-up which was caught on surveillance.

As I sit back and reflect on all that I heard about that corrupt campaign at the time I can’t but contemplate “we could have had a Judge Panella!”

Sen. Orie Convicted on 14 Counts

While Tom Corbett was Attorney General and prosecuting House Democrats to get to the Governor’s Mansion Republican Senator Jane Orie was violating the same laws to get her sister elected tot he state Supreme Court.  So said a jury in Pittsburgh which convicted Jane Orie of 14 counts of corruption yesterday.  A lone holdout juror threatened to deadlock the trial over the weekend and resulted in her being acquitted on ten counts but a verdict finally was reached on Monday.

Five of the counts are felonies and the arrogant b*tch will see jail time for her misuse of public resources.  She must wear an ankle bracelet until she is sentenced on May 21st.  At that point she must resign her Senate seat and she’ll lose her state pension.  This is payback for the open and arrogant use of Senate time, staff, resources and offices to help elect both herself and her sister to public office.  She was so open about it and thought she could simply lie her way out of it that it never occurred to her someone might testify they saw it going on openly when they visited her office one day.  That rebuttal testimony undercut every defense her team had concocted for the jury.

Next up is the trial of sister Janine Orie who is accused of using the Senator’s offices and staff to run another sister’s  (Joan Orie Melvin) campaign for Supreme Court.  Melvin sits on that Court under a very dark cloud today.  Thus far she has refused to resign although it is obvious she won the election under false pretenses.

She was acquitted of charges of forgery for the documents which had been altered in her first trial.  They resulted in it being declared a mistrial.  There was no way the prosecution could prove Senator Orie did the forgeries though no one else had a motive.  A jury cannot convict based solely on motive.  Had someone come forward and said they witnessed the crime she might have been convicted on most all of the counts against her.

Should Janine Orie be convicted of corruption for using taxpayer resources to run Melvin’s campaign the Justice will have to resign her seat.  No Justice should sit on our high court and judge others under such circumstances.

Justice Melvin Implicated in Corruption Trial

Jane Orie’s corruption trial in Pittsburgh has now engulfed Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.  Jamie Pavlot, once Sen. Jane Orie’s Chief of Staff, testified that the Justice in involved in the use of taxpayer funded offices, staff and resources for her campaign to the Commonwealth’s highest court.  Once an intern filed a legal complaint about the corruption Melvin ordered the removal of evidence.

The testimony in open court shows the Justice was aware of the fact her campaign was run from her sister’s legislative offices.  An Orie staffer, for example. was her driver during the campaign.  It is time for Justice Melvin to resign.

News & Notes February 15, 2012

Auditor General Jack Wagner told PCN he’s considering running for Mayor of Pittsburgh.  Term limited he lost the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination two years ago and leaves office next January.

Jane and Janine Orie will have separate trials for public corruption.  Judge Manning reluctantly decided it would be prejudicial to try them together.  So many new charges have been filed since the mistrial last year he didn’t feel it was fair to do them together.

I usually camp out and see who files nominating petitions but had to travel to New Jersey yesterday and missed it.  Erik Saar filed for House 129 where it has been revealed that Rep. Jim Cox wrote the infamous Rohrer letter equating drivers licenses to slavery.  Patrick Murphy filed over 0500 signatures for Attorney General.

Matt Cartwright filed to run against Tim Holden in PA-17 meaning the Democrat has a primary for the second consecutive time.  When will he get the hint he’s too conservative?

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is premiering the film “8” about the fight to overturn Proposition H8 with a benefit on March 8th in Los Angeles.  Written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Rob Reiner the documentary will be  amust see for the LGBT community.  Attending the benefit will be Philadelphia’s Kevin Bacon, Chris Colfer of Glee, John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch,George Takei, Martin Sheen and others.

Oklahoma, a state as red as it gets, has elected its first openly gay state Senator.  Al McAffrey was supported by the Victory Fund.

Don’t you love it when conservative Catholics rail against Obama for using mixing religion and politics, decrying any attempt to discriminate based on religion then they turn around and do the same thing?  It was already bad enough that they put your employer between you and your doctor but now they want to put them between you and your contraception too.

Gov. Gasbag quietly signed the Marcellus shale tax bill.  This is a direct violation of his “no new taxes” pledge.

It appears the Governor is using the budget as leverage to force Penn State to sacrifice its exemption under the Open Records law.  This is heinous, holding higher education hostage to politics.

Penn State has spent $3.2 million thus far as a result of the Sandusky scandal.  I bet if they had the chance to go back in time they;d decide covering up crimes against children was NOT in their best interest.

Sandusky will be tried in Center County meaning it’ll be tough to obtain a conviction.  Tim Curley has filed for dismissal of charges following the death of key witness Joe Paterno.  This is a direct result of Attorney General Tom Corbett’s negligence getting the case investigated.  Had he not dragged his feet a trial may have commenced before the coach’s death.

A Pekingese from Adams County won Best In Show at Westminster last night.  I always enjoy seeing the dogs and this year there were a number of different breeds.  I miss my dogs but I’m on the road too much covering politics to take care of them.  Meanwhile my cat Schroeder and I curled up and enjoyed the show.

Justice Melvin Target of Grand Jury

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts asked Justice Joan Orie Melvin to step down from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court following a report she is now a target of a grand jury investigation.  

PMC first called on Justice Orie Melvin to temporarily step down from the bench.  PMC Executive Director Lynn A. Marks explained, “All citizens, including judges are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but judges and especially supreme court justices should not be permitted to judge others while under the cloud of such a serious investigation.”

Should Justice Orie Melvin not voluntarily step down, PMC called on the Supreme Court to temporarily suspend her.  The Supreme Court has suspended judges facing misconduct charges, criminal investigations, or even allegations of wrongdoing.  As Marks explained, “judges must be held to a higher standard because of the great power entrusted to them by the public and because our courts are only effective when the people have confidence in them.”

PMC acknowledged that suspending a sitting Supreme Court Justice before charges of misconduct or criminal charges have been filed is a serious action that will deprive the Supreme Court of its full complement of justices.  However, the Supreme Court must act to protect the integrity of the Court and to safeguard the public trust.

Calling the grand jury investigation an indictment of the judicial election system, PMC then urged the state legislature to amend the constitution to end the election of appellate judges.  “Judicial elections require candidates to campaign, politick, and fundraise, eliminating the distinction between them and politicians.  Judicial elections are designed to pick the best campaigners and fundraisers.  We need a system that is designed to get the most qualified, fair and impartial judges on the bench,” explained PMC Deputy Director Shira J. Goodman.

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review says Orie Melvin was notified she is now a target of the Allegheny County grand jury which has already indicted her sisters State Senator Jane Orie and Janine Orie, who works for the Justice.  The sisters are facing retrial on charges they used state staff, offices and resources to run Joan Orie Melvin’s two Supreme Court campaigns.  Numerous staffers have testified of the extensive political work they did on state time, in Justice Melvin’s Superior Court offices, for her campaigns in violation of state laws.

As more and more testimony implicated Justice Melvin it was quite likely she would eventually become a target of the grand jury.  In fact she was subpoenaed to appear before the investigative panel last month.  

As an official target of a grand jury investigating corruption in her office Justice Melvin should do the proper thing and step down, at least temporarily.  She is not fit to sit in judgment of others until the cloud over her own head is resolved.

News & Notes December 30, 2011

Only one more day in the year.  It seems like just yesterday I was saying we were in August and the year was flying by.  Maybe it just seems it as I get older and older.

The Carbon County Dems are hosting Tim Potts of Democracy Rising at the Inn at Jim Thorpe January 24th at 7PM.  Jim Thorpe is a lovely little town if you’ve never been there.

Double Happyness Travel of Huntingdon Valley has been shut down by the Dept. of Transportation for numerous safety violations.  The bus company provided cheap fares at the cost of cutting corners on maintenance and fatigued drivers.  There’s a reason these cheap bus lines are cheap:  they cut corners and not the ones at intersections.  This is one more example of government working for you.

Lisa Sasinoski, who worked for Joan Orie Melvin in both capacities in Superior Court and Supreme Court, says she knew she was breaking the law by working on political campaigns at the office:

“It’s my understanding you’re not even allowed to have yard signs,” Ms. Sasinoski said. “I knew it was wrong, and we shouldn’t be doing it.”

But she continued, “I really felt like there was no other choice.”

What a broad indictment of Justice Melvin.

The City of Santa Fe requires that all workers be paid a living wage.  Somehow it doesn’t affect the number of jobs however.  This year the wage goes over $10/hour.  Conservatives are constantly crying that higher wages mean fewer jobs though all economic and labor data show otherwise.  It is yet another of their mythical talking points which is a lie.  Twelve states are enacting minimum wage increases in 2012 but Pennsylvania is NOT one of them.  It’s time to begin recapturing the real wages lost to inflation and bring workers into the 21st century.

Range Resources spends lavishly trying to brainwash us about its good citizenship as it pillages our countryside for natural gas.  One small community upstate is fighting back after the company destroyed one of its roads.  They certainly got Range Resources’ attention.

The federal law granting legal immunity to telecommunications companies which are intercepting your calls, emails, financial transactions and internet activity for the Department of Homeland Security is constitutional according to a federal appeals court.  Congress passed the protections after consumers threatened to sue for violations of civil rights.  The constitution bars any such searches without probable cause and warrants.  President Obama has continued the illegal program begun under George W. Bush.  Doing so is an impeachable offense.

State Senator Mary Jo White is retiring.

Six State Representatives who were elected to other offices will see their replacements be elected in special elections next year.  Some of the districts were moved cross state as part of the redistricting process.  This is proving to be a touchy point since the successors may live nowhere their constituents.

Geisinger Health System will no longer hire workers who smoke.  Applicants will be tested for nicotine.  With health costs out of control this seems sensible.  Smoking costs all of us tons of money but the tobacco companies remain uncontrolled.  If we began getting as outraged over tobacco deaths as we did over terrorism we might get our priorities straight.

Russia slammed the U.S. for our hypocrisy over human rights.  We feign indignation and outrage over other nation’s human rights records while neglecting our own sorry record.  While Gitmo remains open along with secret torture sites overseas, while we continue executing innocent prisoners, pass laws declaring our intention to hold citizens indefinitely without trial and tap telecommunications without warrants our record on human rights is as sorry as the country’s we condemn.  Let he is without sin cast the first stone seems to be Russia’s message.  It’s funny how they’re taking the moral high ground over a supposed “christian nation.”

Speaking of American immorality people have been warning about the stealing of our elections since evidence began popping up about it in regards to electronic voting machines.  Now we have proof it was actually done:

Ole Newt sure has been getting ganged up on with his sorry, lengthy record of corruption, unethical behavior and flip flops.  Back in 1992 this ad was run against him for bouncing checks at the House bank:

As Rick Santorum is surging from behind (doesn’t that just bring certain images to mind?) in Iowa voters there need to be reminded he belongs to a secret Catholic cult called Opus Dei.  They not only want to outlaw contraception but all forms of masturbation.  Any sexual activity not likely to produce children would be against the law under a President Santorum.  While he goes around decrying the evils of Sharia law he’d impose the same thing (but called Christian law).


Grand Jury Details Orie Sisters Corruption

The Allegheny County grand jury presentment against Janine Orie paints a picture of Justice Joan Orie Melvin which shows her unfit to continue sitting as a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  The extent of the corruption and illegal activity done in her judicial chambers, in her name and on her behalf, illustrates a pattern of criminality dwarfing any done by some sitting in prisons as the result of BonusGate.  One does have to wonder how Tom Corbett neglected this level of corruption in the highest echelon of state government.

Joan Orie Melvin, as a sitting Judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court, employed her sister Janine Orie to run her office and staff as a political campaign operation to such an extent they had to take legitimate judicial work home to do on their own time (unpaid) because they couldn’t complete it during the day.  Janine Orie spent as much as three hours a day, on taxpayer time, running Orie Melvin’s 2003 Supreme Court campaign directly from her judicial chambers using state staff and resources.

A good number of legislative staffers and former State Representatives have been convicted and sent to prison for the same corrupt deeds.  The extensive testimony of former and present staffers, one of whom was fired when she refused to continue violating state law, indicts Janine Orie, and by association her sister, paints a picture of an office out of control.  State Sen. Jane Orie comes off as some sort of spoiled brat screaming at staffers when they refused to break the law.

How does Joan Orie Melvin sit in judgment against others when she is a crook?  In 2003 all of her judicial staff were ordered to work the polls on election day even though state law prohibited them from engaging in partisan political activity.  Another law specifically prohibits judges from engaging in ANY partisan political activity unless it is in the year they are running for office or retention.  It is never legal to use state paid staff and state provided resources for political purposes.  

Justice Joan Orie Melvin needs to either publicly explain her sister’s extensive use of taxpayer resources for her campaigns or resign from the Court immediately.