Orie Melvin was initially arrested in April 2010 for improper use of judicial and legislative staff for her campaigns. In May 2013, she was found guilty of campaign corruption charges.
Instead of prison time, Judge Lester G. Nauhaus ordered a county photographer take her picture in handcuffs, and send a copy to every member of the state’s judiciary. In addition, she had to write an apology letter to each of them, as well as serve one year of house arrest and two years of probation. Over one year later, an apology letter is finally being sent out.
To the Member of the Pennsylvania Judiciary:
I was accused of misusing my office to assist in my campaigns for Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009. I plead not guilty. I was afforded a trial and I was found guilty. I have now exhausted my direct appeal rights. As a matter of law, I am guilty of these offenses.
As a condition of my sentence, the judge ordered that I write letters of apology to every member of the Pennsylvania judiciary and to my former staff members. This has been a humiliating experience. It has likewise brought unfathomable distress to my family.
In reflection, I wish I had been more diligent in my supervision of my staff and that I had given them more careful instructions with respect to the prohibition on political activity set forth in the Supreme Court’s Order date November 24, 1998.
I know all of you take pride in the Pennsylvania judiciary and that the publicity of my case has had an impact on the public’s perception of the judiciary. I apologize to you for any difficult it has imposed upon your discharge of your responsibilities as a judge.
I hope that my case will serve as a cautionary tale to all of you.
Joan Orie Melvin
After the release of the apology letter, some experts said Orie Melvin shifts blame to others, it comes off as insincere, and is essentially a “non-apology.”
“It’s clearly an apology that someone was forced to make,” said Edwin Battistella, an English professor at Southern Oregon University. “It’s sort of clear…that she’s not happy about this. So she’s not really owning the apology.”