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No Rush to Justice

Governor Corbett appears in replace Joan Orie Melvin on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Six is a not a good number when it comes to court.

An even number can be odd for judicial decisions. That is, it is often not good for rendering judgment.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been lacking a seventh judge since Joan Orie Melvin, of the famed political Pittsburgh Melvins, was suspensed in May 2012 when  she was indicted on nine criminal counts alleging that she employed her judicial staff to perform campaign work.

Orie Melvin was convicted in February and finally — after what seemed like an eternity — resigned from the bench this month.

(This is the place where I like to name all nine of the Orie siblings, each with a name beginning with the letter J: Joan, June, Janine, Joy, Jack, James, Jerome, Joseph and the late Judith. The parents are John and the late Jean.)

But Orie Melvin's replacement may not be named anytime soon, according to The Legal Intelligencer.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a politician known for taking his sweet time with decisions, has made no moves to fill the vacancy even though the post has basically been vacant for a year.

The governor has 90 days to nominate a candidate after Orie Melvin's resignation. The candidate requires confirmation by a two-thirds of the state senate. If approved, the justice would serve until January 2016, after the November 2015 election.

But Corbett, as is his wont, appears in no rush.

"I can tell you with relative certainty there's minimal chance anything will happen before the budget," a source close to the adminsitration told the law journal.

There is a "very real possibility," the source said, that Corbett will not nominate a candidate.

The state Supreme Court is mulling whether to appoint a senior judge to restore the full complement of seven. Given the escalating tensions between Chief Justice Ronald Castille and Justice Seamus McCaffrey, the court's two Philadelphians, some new blood might be in order.

--Karen Heller