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Jury Deliberations Resume in Trial of PA Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, Sister

The justice is accused of allowing her state-paid staff to perform campaign work.

A jury in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court will resume deliberations Tuesday morning in the trial of suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie.

A jury of nine women and three men began its deliberations Friday afternoon, before breaking for the three-day holiday weekend after two hours of work, thePittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The sisters are charged with misapplication of government funds, theft of services and conspiracy. Prosecutors say they used the justice's former Superior Court staff and the legislative staff of a third sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie, to run Justice Orie Melvin's Supreme Court campaigns in 2003 and 2009, the P-G reported.

Former Sen. Jane Orie is serving 2 1/2 to 10 years in prison for five felony convictions involving theft of service and conflict of interest for using her staff to perform political fundraising and campaign work. The Orie family has lived and been active in political and civic affairs in northern suburban communities for years.

In his closing argument Friday morning, Patrick Casey, Justice Orie Melvin's attorney, said prosecution witnesses had either lied or their testimony was "woefully inadequate" to convict his client, whom he called "courageous and honorable," the Post-Gazette reported.

Janine Orie's attorney made similar arguments about his client. 

In his closing, Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus said evidence proved the sisters had committed crimes to further Justice Orie Melvin's political career, the P-G reported.

"Clearly this family has love, which is an admirable quality," he said. "But family ties can be less than admirable; they can be criminal. That's taking family ties too far."

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