State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
State House Sound Bites Podcast: NPR | iTunes | Google Play

House poised to start impeachment process for Orie Melvin

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 22, 2013 4:14 PM

Photo by PA Judicial System website

This post has been updated to reflect the charges against Orie Melvin were for campaign corruption.


If state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin doesn’t resign her seat in light of a jury’s verdict finding her guilty on six criminal charges of campaign corruption, state House lawmakers are ready to make her the second impeached high court judge in 20 years.

One Democratic state lawmaker is calling for Orie Melvin to leave the state Supreme Court, where she has the kind of ghost-man arrangement you see in sandlot baseball.

Orie Melvin has been suspended since she was first criminally charged, but her vacancy can’t be filled – and an even-numbered court can’t be made whole -- until she resigns of her own accord, or is booted.

Removal could come at the hands of the state Legislature.

“If she doesn’t resign, the House is going to move ahead with impeachment preparations,” said House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin, who added that Rep. Glen Grell (R-Cumberland) is already drafting a resolution to begin the process.

Think of impeachment like an indictment – it would only oust Orie Melvin from the Supreme Court bench if it were followed by a conviction. That part is handled by the state Senate.

If House lawmakers forge ahead with a resolution kicking off the four-part impeachment process, it couldn’t begin before mid-March, when the chamber is back in session.

The last time the General Assembly removed a state Supreme Court justice was in 1994. The whole affair took about five months.

Another avenue of removal likely wouldn’t take so long: the Court of Judicial Discipline. It could remove Orie Melvin, but only after holding a trial and finding her guilty of judicial misconduct.


Published in State House Sound Bites

Tagged under ,

back to top

Give Now

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »