In light of case against kin, Pa. high court justice urged to step down

    A court reform group says the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shouldn’t let a judge under investigation serve on the bench.

    State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was subpoenaed in December by the same grand jury that charged her sisters with political corruption.

    The probe alleged that Melvin’s sister, state Sen. Jane Orie, R-Allegheny, used her state staff for political work.

    Melvin should temporarily step down from the bench, said Shira Goodman of the Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts reform group.

    Melvin has recused herself from deciding criminal cases involving the Allegheny County prosecutor who argued the case against her sister.

    “We don’t think it’s enough,” Goodman said. “I think she would still be weighing in on very important questions that affect all Pennsylvanians from family matters to business questions to possibly the redistricting case and we don’t need a cloud.

    “We don’t need questions about whether a judge is legitimately should be there or not,” she said.

    If Melvin stepped down, six judges would be left to decide the upcoming cases involving appeals to the state legislative redistricting plans.

    If the vote were split evenly, the commission-approved redistricting map would stand.

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