Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister/former aide Janine Orie have each received court-mandated punishments for illegal campaigning on government time. The spin on this one is that instead of throwing the pair behind bars, the court has brought back some good old fashioned shaming.
The sisters were nabbed for “illegally using [their] state-funded staff as part of her two campaigns for a seat on the state's highest court,” reports the UK’s Daily Mail. Orie Melvin was “found guilty in February of six criminal counts, including three felonies” for her actions.
“A devout Catholic,” explains the Daily Mail, Melvin “was sentenced to three years of house arrest during which she may leave only for church - unless she receives specific permission from the judge for other activities - followed by two years' probation. She is also barred from referring to herself as a judge while under sentence.”
In addition, the court has added a taste of shame to Orie Melvin’s sentence. Reportedly, “at her sentencing hearing in Pittsburgh, Penn., Judge Lester Nauhaus chided Melvin for engaging in crimes of 'arrogance' and ordered her to immediately have her picture taken by a county photographer.” Orie Melvin is required to send this portrait of herself, signed, along with a note of apology for her actions, to “about 500 jurists,” writes the Pittsburg Post Gazette.
But the Gazette, amongst others, does question the validity of this relatively unusual form of punishment. They mention that Jules Epstein, criminal law professor at Widener University, said that "even when you are convicted of a crime, you retain your Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. You can't be punished for refusing to exercise it." He adds that “a good lawyer would go back to the judge and ask for that part of the order to either be modified or be held in abeyance while appeals play out.”
While that all gets sorted, we just look forward to getting a glimpse of the ex-judge’s new portrait!