Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From the Post Gazette - Orie wavies hearing

Orie waives hearing, new trial postponed until February

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The retrial for state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, has been postponed until Feb. 13 so that the defense can prepare to try new charges against her with the old.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning this morning agreed to join the two cases together, after having previously denied the same motion by the defense.

Judge Manning said he had denied the request because it was premature. Once Ms. Orie waived a preliminary hearing this morning on the new charges, which include forgery, perjury and tampering with evidence, the case was automatically bound over to Common Pleas Court and Judge Manning's jurisdiction.

Ms. Orie, charged along with her sister, Janine Orie, is accused of misusing her legislative staff and resources to help run campaigns for herself and another sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

The original case against her and Janine went to trial in February but ended with a mistrial after the prosecution alleged that the senator's defense submitted fraudulent documents as exhibits.

Those documents -- and testimony by the senator -- led to the new charges against the senator, which were filed in August.

"We all feel very strongly there should be one more trial to address all the questions and allegations raised," said the senator's defense attorney, William Costopoulos.

Having two trials would be a "bit much for the senator, and it's a bit much for the commonwealth," he said.

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus joined in the motion to try the cases together.

"This way, we're guaranteed ... all that evidence will come in and give the jury the proper perspective," Mr. Claus said.

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