Joan Orie Melvin: To Pay, or Not to Pay

A Pennsylvania ethics enforcement panel called for a hearing this morning that will decide the fate of Justice Orie Melvin's paycheck.

The Orie sisters can’t catch a break.

All three are facing or having been convicted of charges associated with corruption and misuse of taxpayer funds, and now the question arises as to whether Supreme Court Joan Orie Melvin should continue to receive pay as she fights charges against her.

Melvin, who has been suspended since May 18, continues to receive a $195,000 annual paycheck.

But all that could change, as a Pennsylvania ethics enforcement panel called for a hearing this morning, to decide whether or not Justice Orie Melvin should remain on the state payroll.

Eight of Orie Melvin’s employees (who make about $55,000-$60,000 a year) have already been furloughed without pay. Her sister Janine, who was also her longtime aide, was originally on paid suspension (she made $67,000 yearly) but that was changed to one excluding pay and benefits.

The third sister, Sen. Jane Orie, said goodbye to her office and began a 2-and-a-half to 10-year prison term this month.

Though Sen. Orie’s conviction and the charges brought against her sister/aide may make Justice Orie Melvin more likely to comply in the end, the case is still open and Melvin is still fighting.

Just this morning, President Judge Robert Curran of the Court of Judicial Discipline requested “to hear more testimony regarding Justice Melvin’s case,” according to a Post-Gazette report.

William Arbuckle, an attorney representing Orie Melvin, sees no reason to adjust the current situation, in which a justice accused of abusing state funds continues to receive state-funded pay. Arbuckle argues that the issue has already been settled, citing the May 22 decision to suspend Justice Orie Melvin with pay.

Justice Orie Melvin insists that she is not guilty of all charges.

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