Our opinion: Oh, how embarrassing
Former Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has been photographed a lot over the past year, usually while marching in and out of the Allegheny County Courthouse.
If you’ve been reading and listening, the disgraced jurist was tried and convicted of corruption by using her state-paid staff to do campaign work.
Essentially the woman, a member of Pennsylvania’s highest court, was bilking taxpayers – stealing, if you will.
After her conviction, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus sentenced her to (pause for effect) embarrassment and an unflattering photograph, sentences to be served concurrently.
She was required to pose for a photo while wearing handcuffs, said photo to be accompanied by an apology letter which she would write and mail to all 500 judges in the state. Oh yes, and she’ll be under house arrest for three years, basically forced to eat her own cooking and shower in her own bathroom.
Yep, that’s it. That’s the sentence for stealing your tax dollars.
Well, that’s the sentence if you did it while you presided over cases brought before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
If you are a welfare cheat or a doctor who fabricates Medicaid forms, then things are a little dicey.
Other than the black and white “bad” photo, her most recent appearances – leaving the courthouse following her sentencing – are more appealing. Well-appointed and smiling broadly, she is seen strolling down Grant Street, arm-in-arm with her husband. You’d be smiling too if you were just sentenced to embarrassment for corruption.
On top of that Melvin might not have to actually write and mail out the mea culpas to her former judicial colleagues.
According to some legal experts, doing so might violate her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, since an apology would require an admission of guilt before or during an appeal of the verdict that led to this brutal sentence.