Joan Orie Melvin, previously a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, was convicted in February of six counts of corruption for using her judicial staff to help her run for office (twice). Three of the charges were felonies, but Melvin will not serve any jail time, the judge said yesterday at her sentencing hearing.
She will, however, have to send an apology to every other Pennsylvania judge (all 500 of them), accompanied by a picture of herself wearing handcuffs.
According to one report, the apology must be written directly on the picture, but that was not clear at press time.
In addition to the mass apology with updated mugshot, Judge Lester Nauhaus sentenced Melvin to three years of house arrest plus two years of probation, fined her $55,000 and ordered her to volunteer at a soup kitchen three days a week, which really isn’t “volunteering” but you get the idea. Melvin’s sister was convicted of the same charges, and she got a year of house arrest and two years of probation. No embarrassing photo, though.
Melvin has also resigned, surrendered her law license, and may lose her pension, so whether the public shaming is also necessary or appropriate is debatable, I think. She is not doing any time for three felony convictions, so there is that, but it’s not like these particular felonies were especially heinous, either. Judge Nauhaus said he doesn’t think Melvin is “evil,” but does think “her arrogance is stunning.” The picture in cuffs seems designed to bring her down a notch, or another few notches, anyway.
She actually looks quite presentable in the full picture (above is only a relevant detail), apart from the handcuffs (that’s the detail). But unless you know the backstory or look very closely, you might think that was just a bracelet. If the apology can be separate from the picture, I’d recommend that she just sign all the pictures and then add a P.S. to the apology saying she is also enclosing an autographed picture of herself. Problem solved.
I’d recommend that in my role as a legal-humor writer, that is. If I were your lawyer, I’d point out that this would be a really stupid thing to do.