Corrupt Judge Ordered to Send Photo of Herself in Handcuffs to other Judges

Friday, May 10, 2013
Joan Orie Melvin in handcuffs (photo: Allegheny County)

A convicted state Supreme Court justice in Pennsylvania has been ordered as part of her punishment to send a photo of herself wearing handcuffs to every judge in the state.


Joan Orie Melvin was found guilty of six counts of corruption—including theft of services, criminal conspiracy, and misappropriation of state property—for using government employees to work on her 2003 and 2009 campaigns for Supreme Court justice, an elected position in Pennsylvania.


Melvin became just the second Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice to be convicted in almost three centuries.


Her wrongdoing infuriated Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus, who ordered Melvin to pose before a photographer, in handcuffs, and send the image, along with a written apology, to all 500 members of Pennsylvania’s judiciary “who have been tarnished by your behavior,” he said.


In addition, Melvin will be confined to house arrest for three years. She also received two years of probation, and must spend three days a week working at a soup kitchen.


Outraged as he was, Judge Nauhaus discounted a request from assistant district attorney Lawrence Claus to send Melvin to prison.


“I have always believed prison is for dangerous people,” he said. “I also believe putting you in prison is going to cost the taxpayers a fortune.”


As Matt Bewig of AllGov wrote at the time of her conviction, “Although the theft of services charges carry up to seven years in prison each, Melvin’s clean record, and the fact she is white, wealthy, and from a prominent political family, means she is likely to receive little or no prison time.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Orie Melvin, Sister Guilty of Corruption, Put On House Arrest (by Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Two State Supreme Court Judges Convicted of Felonies (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


gloria wells 5 years ago
I live in Bozeman Montana and I have been the victim of a rotten Judge. She took from me my home, my cars and trucks, everything I own right down to my clothes. I am in an adverse possession case and if the Judge had followed Montana law the property would be in my name. I built a home on the property, I lived there for 11 years, the statute of limitations ran out after five years and still the Judge found in favor of the other party, when they did not even answer my complaint within the time frame allotted to respond. Judge Holly Brown is her name and she has gone wacko, taking everything I own and threatening me with jail for trespassing breaking and entering my own home. There is going to be a huge fight from me without fear of going to jail as I am not going to allow her to do this to me. I have a right to protect my property and I am going to do it, any way I can. This will place Bozeman on the map in a big way, but I have no other choices. Why can't these Judges just be honest and follow the law??

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