She denied the allegations against her.
"I entered a plea of not guilty today and I will vigorously defend these politically motivated charges," she said. "The voters overwhelmingly sent me to the Supreme Court and I will not resign because of these politically motivated charges."
According to the 75-page grand jury presentment, the charges cover a time span between 2003 and 2009, when Melvin, then a Superior Court judge, won election to the Supreme Court.
Though the high court promptly relieved Melvin of all judicial duties Friday, she has not resigned her position and will continue to receive her $195,309 annual salary.
That prompted a swift reaction from the 13,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association, calling on Melvin to resign "immediately."
"The charges against Justice Orie Melvin cast a shadow on the court that compromises the ability for justice to be dispensed fairly," said the association's chancellor, John E. Savoth. "We cannot have a sitting justice who has been indicted."
Late Friday, the state Judicial Conduct Board said it would file charges against Melvin. But sanctions couild only follow if she were to be found guilty of violating the judicial code of ethics.
The grand jury presentment says Melvin "actively condoned and even promoted" campaign-related activity by state aides while she was running for the high court in 2009 and still serving as a Superior Court judge.
Prosecutors also say Melvin and her staff used personal email accounts to help hide political activities by judicial staffers.
A letter submitted Friday to Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille by Melvin's attorneysaid Melvin was stepping aside voluntarily. Within hours, however, the high court issued its own order relieving her of duties because of "the compelling and immediate need to protect and preserve the integrity" of the state court system.
In his letter, William I. Arbuckle III, who has been representing the justice in a pending Judicial Conduct Board investigation, wrote: "In order to avoid the appearance of impropriety and in accordance with precedent, Justice Orie Melvin is voluntarily recusing herself from all judicial duties pending resolution of the criminal charges."
Arbuckle added, "She is not resigning from the court. The justice denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend these politically motivated criminal charges."
Melvin was identified as a target of the grand jury in December. Two of her sisters, state Sen. Jane Orie (R., Allegheny), and Janine Orie, were charged in April 2010 with misusing the senator's legislative staff to do campaign work.
Jane Orie was convicted on 14 of 24 criminal counts in March and has a June 4 sentencing date. Janine Orie, whose trial is scheduled for August, has been suspended from her job as an aide to Melvin.