State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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First step of many in judge's impeachment could come this week

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 10, 2013 9:54 PM
Thumbnail image for JusticeOrieMelvin.jpg

Photo by PA Judicial System website

The impeachment process for convicted state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin could begin this week with a state House resolution allowing lawmakers to begin an investigation into the suspended judge's conduct.

Orie Melvin was convicted last month on campaign corruption charges.

State Rep. Glen Grell (R-Cumberland) said he plans to introduce a resolution to begin the process of removing her from the bench this week.

"What we have done is drafted a resolution that simply empowers the subcommittee on courts in the judiciary committee to initiate an investigation," said Grell, "to obtain documents, to call witnesses, hold hearings, issue subpoenas if necessary and those sorts of things to investigate whether articles of impeachment should be drawn against her."

This first step is likely to take longer than other procedures that could remove the judge from her seat even sooner. Grell said the House is unlikely to wrap up its probe before Orie Melvin's May 7 sentencing, when a judge could order her to relinquish her post.

"That could happen, or she could resign voluntarily," said Grell, "or the court of judicial discipline could issue an order prior to the House having to take impeachment action."

Orie Melvin has been suspended from the bench since she was charged last May. The suspension has left the state's high court with an even number of justices, which legal experts have said could lead to a hamstrung bench on high-profile cases that have yet to be decided.


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