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Melvin intervenes in STD case

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Something odd is going on in state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin's corruption case.

Melvin's lawyers are trying to unseal federal court documents regarding a woman who claimed she got a STD from a doctor she was dating, claiming her identity could have a bearing on the justice's case. The Post-Gazette is trying to intervene to find out what's going on, but has promised not to identify the woman.

From Paula Reed Ward:

Last week, Justice Orie Melvin, who faces criminal trial later this month, filed a motion seeking to reveal the identity of a woman who claimed in a federal lawsuit that she contracted a sexually transmitted disease from a doctor she'd been dating.

Justice Orie Melvin's attorneys asked -- and received permission -- to file their supporting briefs under seal. They claimed in their filing that the woman's allegations have "direct bearing" on Justice Orie Melvin's trial.

The attorney for the woman identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, Stephen S. Stallings, filed his response to the justice's brief Friday, also under seal.

He earlier had called Justice Orie Melvin's attempts to reveal his client's name "disgusting."

The newspaper is not seeking to identify Jane Doe, Post-Gazette attorney Fritz Byers wrote in his brief.

"[T]he Post-Gazette seeks access only to the reasons proffered by Justice Orie Melvin in her motion as to why she believes she is entitled to make Jane Doe known to the public."

Mr. Byers said the newspaper has no interest in publicizing the name of Jane Doe or information on the underlying case; rather, "the public interest being advanced by the Post-Gazette is in learning why Justice Orie Melvin believes that Jane Doe's privacy interests, which supported the initial sealing, are now outweighed by her rights to publicly disclose Jane Doe's identity."

Mr. Byers said that by allowing the parties to file the documents under seal, the court denied public access to a judicial document that Justice Orie Melvin considers to impact "critical Constitutional interests."

The justice is due to go on trial in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court next week.

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