Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin has appealed the denial of her request that an out of county judge be appointed to sit on her preliminary hearing relating to the charges being brought against her for use of state employees on her campaign. The trial judge that denied her request is the same judge, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning, that oversaw the trial that resulted in the conviction of Senator Jane Orie, Judge Orie’s sister, on similar charges. The Supreme Court, to whom the appeal has been taken, should move the trial and appoint an out of county judge to hear the case.
Many argue it is the only way that Judge Orie Melvin can get a fair trial. While this may or may not be true, many Pennsylvanians lack faith in the Commonwealth’s judicial system. Because of the players involved and the connections to Senator’s Orie’s trial, the Court system would be wise to move the trial to another venue with another judge. This would preserve the integrity of the outcome and remove any claims by either side that the decision was poltically motivated. The evidence in the case should be relatively easy to understand and it will either demonstrate guilt or innocence.
The Court should take simple steps such as these to avoid the appearance of impropriety and restore some faith in the system.