A member of Pennsylvania's highest court was convicted Thursday of corrupting the election process in her campaigns to win a seat on the bench, triggering renewed calls to change the system of electing state judges.
Justice Joan Orie Melvin was just the second known Supreme Court justice to be convicted in nearly three centuries, and her conviction may soon set in motion political campaigns by would-be justices vying to replace her.
Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie, were convicted of corruption for allegedly misusing state-paid staffers to do campaign work.
Pennsylvania Bar Association president Thomas Wilkinson said the "verdict represents a sad chapter in the history of Pennsylvania's justice system" and bolsters the association's position that justices should be appointed, not elected.
The sisters were each convicted of six counts for the work done on Melvin's 2003 and 2009 Supreme Court campaigns. Jurors were unable to decide one count of official oppression against Melvin, 56, who was accused of firing her Superior Court law clerk-turned-key witness, Lisa Sasinoski, after she objected to doing political work in 2003.