- Today in As the Ories Turn: Janine Orie’s retrial is set for August 13. There are rumors that she might get a judge other than Judge Manning, who presided over her prior case and both of Jane’s trials, if I’m not mistaken. Jane will be sentenced on May 21. [Post-Gazette]
- ACLU will sue the state over its new voter identification law. [Legal Intelligencer]
- Oh! Speaking of the First Amendment, someone is suing the Ross township for kicking him off the podium of a town meeting where he was making a public comment. If you have ever been forced to attend municipal meetings, maybe you share my love for the local gadflies who stand up and ramble in the meetings and break up the bureaucratic monopoly a bit; it definitely sounds like he was a regular. The trial started today & I’m rooting for him. [Trib]
- School District asks the court to throw out a subpoena from the Jerry Sandusky Defense; Sandusky and Amendola pose for another creepy news photo. [Patriot]
The Trib just reported that Jane Orie wants to sequester the jury/character witness pool in her case. Her attorney argues that the jury should be sequestered because someone has been leaking information to the media, such as the fact that Justice Orie Melvin received a target letter from the grand jury. “The aforesaid leak of the alleged target letter to Justice Orie Melvin will be revisited by the media during the upcoming trial,” William Costopoulos wrote.
This argument might make more sense in the context of the actual pleading — has anyone posted it online? But undoubtedly Constopoulos is right that the trial will bring a media firestorm.
- Allegheny County property tax bills will be a few days late this year. [Trib]
- State Supremes threw out the new district lines for the House and Senate. Democrats claim victory, but nobody really knows how this will play out. [Post-Gazette]
- After dropping the redistricting bombshell, the justices said “peace out” and headed to Puerto Rico. Nice. [Trib]
- Judge Manning ordered Jane Orie to disclose exactly how many people received the mailing asking her constituents to serve as “character witnesses.” [Post-Gazette]
Ho ho ho! We’re back. What have we missed?
- News of the latest charges against Janine Orie must have finally traveled to Philadelphia. The Legal Intelligencer ran a big article on the allegations about Justice Orie Melvin’s staff being ordered to do campaign work. Justice Orie Melvin “has to step down,” Duquesne University School of Law Bruce Ledewitz told the newspaper. “All of her professional life, she has stood against scandal in the judiciary. It is a tragedy that she is so close to the situation that she cannot see that her refusal to act in an honorable way is now undermining her entire legacy.” [Legal Intelligencer]
- In a case that probably has Edgar Snyder seething right now, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff’s car insurance company can prorate the deductible when subrogating expenses from a third party at fault. The court reasoned that when you choose lesser coverage in exchange for a big deductible, you’re assuming the risk of having to pay out the deductible, and making the third party cover your deductible would be an unfair bonus. [Legal Intelligencer]
- The Post-Gazette discussed legal problems raised by coal mining in the area, and profiled a specialist. [Post-Gazette]
- Two Pennsylvania cases bucked the trend of giving adverse parties unfettered access to each other’s Facebook pages. Actually, one of the cases involved a MySpace page — apparently they still use that over in Luzerne County. The courts denied access to private profile information where none of the publicly accessible profile information pointed to the reasonable likelihood of discoverable information. [Post-Gazette] HOWEVER: it’s still a bad idea to post pictures of yourself posing with stolen goods, just in case. [MSNBC]
- Cliff Tuttle predicts gamesmanship in the ongoing Allegheny County property tax reassessment. [Pittsburgh Legal Backtalk]
The allegedly forged documents submitted in Jane Orie’s corruption trial came directly from her, according to her attorney in a perplexing affidavit submitted recently. [Trib]
The news story does not say what prompted the affidavit, but the way it is summarized makes it sound like the lawyer is saying “I swear I didn’t doctor the documents before submitting them to the court” which I thought was just sort of a basic evidentiary presumption and not something you needed to assert spontaneously. University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris seems to agree with me. “It’s troubling for an attorney to be giving evidence in a case that he’s representing someone,” he told the Trib. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this. I’m not saying it’s wrong. It is unusual.”
The corruption trial is set for January.
Via Contributing Editor Bumpits
Nothing better to get me out of pre-winter doldrums than more Orie drama. What a mystery!!!! So many things I want to know…. Who was logged in at the time the documents were “removed” from the Senate computer system? Was Sister Jane or anyone associated with her logged in at the time? If so, who? Where was she at the time this all happened? As reported in the article, it seems like someone went into the system a week or so after the mistrial and deleted the now-missing documents. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Are these the forged documents? Drafts? Did Sister Jane, or someone at her direction, attempt to destroy evidence of the forgeries? If so, how could they be so foolish as to think they would get away with it? About as foolish as thinking you could get away with the forgeries. As “a clearly irate” Judge Manning declared back in March: “Ray Charles could see that signature was doctored.”
- Post-Gazette does an excellent job of analyzing Pittsburgh’s declining crime statistics in light of its declining population. Contrary to the popular belief, according to the article, “the rate per 100,000 is generally worse now than it was 40 or 50 years ago, at least for crimes of violence that most people associate with safety, such as murder, robbery and assault.” It’s definitely worth reading the whole article. [Post-Gazette]
- Hill District councilman R. Daniel Lavelle is accused of forging signatures on a petition to re-elect a fellow Hill District Democrat. [Post-Gazette]
- Allegheny District Attorney, working with state police, will interview everyone who works for Sen. Jane Orie and everyone with access to her Republican caucus computers to the latest evidence snafu in her case. [Post-Gazette]
- Matt Mangino weighs in on conflicting reports issued by the Joint State Government Commission on wrongful convictions in Pennsylvania. [Ipso Facto]
- Neighborhood Legal Services Association meets today at 1:00 pm. [ACBA]
- And finally: WE’RE FAMOUS! Thank you, Cliff Tuttle, for recommending us to your readers. [Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk]
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., a Democrat, alleges that someone associated with the State Senate Republicans has deleted computer evidence in the case.
“Someone started deleting these documents two weeks after the trial,” Zappala told the Tribune Review. “We were notified by the Senate caucus that documents were missing. We’re done playing with these guys.
The plot thickens.
Read the whole Tribune-Review article here.
Bumpits, our beloved contributing Editor and Chief Orie Correspondent, sends the following missive:
Very depressed today. REALLY disappointed that the trial has been moved to Feb. I was so excited to go, I even bought a new outfit for the occasion!