University of Pittsburgh

John Burkoff Talks to the Post-Gazette About Orie's Inability to Formally Apologize

Publish Date/Time: 
October 9, 2013

Professor John Burkoff was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Jane Orie Melvin who had not sent apologies to state judges that she was required to send as part of her sentence following conviction on charges of abuse of office. She argues that an apology would be an admission of guilt while her convictions are on appeal. The DA's Office argues that she already apologized at sentencing. Burkoff said that Orie Melvin's statement at sentencing was an "expression of remorse," not a "real apology at all." "It was one of those politicians' tactical apologies which really means 'I'm sorry I got caught.' We've heard this a million times before when politicians feel that they have to say something after they screwed up, but they don't want to really admit that they screwed up." Burkoff suggested two possible solutions -- Judge Nauhaus accept letters that read like her tactical apology, or wait until the conviction is upheld. "If Judge Nauhaus wants something more -- a real admission of wrongdoing, a mea culpa -- then he should wait until her appeals are over and her conviction is final before expecting to see that sort of admission."

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