Penn State ex-officials want appeals courts to take cases
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The criminal case of former Penn State administrators accused of covering up child sex abuse allegations against ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky could soon be under consideration by the state’s highest court.
Lawyers for former athletic director Tim Curley asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to review a county judge’s decision last month rejecting Curley’s claim his rights to legal counsel were violated during grand jury proceedings.
Curley is awaiting trial with former university president Graham Spanier and former vice president Gary Schultz on charges that include perjury, obstruction and conspiracy.
Judge Todd Hoover ruled last month that Penn State’s general counsel at the time, Cynthia Baldwin, had been representing them as Penn State employees so they were not denied a right to legal counsel during grand jury proceedings.
In the new filing, Curley’s lawyers argued to the high court that Hoover’s ruling “sets a dangerous precedent by violating the constitutional and statutory rights of the witness; curtailing and confusing attorney-client privilege; and rendering meaningless grand jury secrecy provisions and practice in the commonwealth.”
They also said the high court should step in to address issues of lawyer-client privilege and grand jury secrecy.
“At the very least, this case clearly demonstrates weaknesses and omissions in our grand jury law and practice which are problems that only this court can efficiently remedy,” Curley’s lawyers wrote.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the three men, said Curley’s filing was under review.
Curley and Schultz also asked the lower-level Superior Court to consider the same types of claims.
Spanier’s attorney said Thursday she plans to make similar filings but they will be under seal.
Curley’s lawyers warned the Supreme Court of wider implications for grand jury proceedings and the rights of defendants if Hoover’s decision is to remain intact.
“Employee witnesses who are laypersons unfamiliar in the law may be lulled into thinking they are protected by corporate counsel’s presence when in reality they will be deemed to have waived their right to counsel and, in fact, are supplying evidence that could be used against them,” Curley’s lawyers wrote.
Hoover’s ruling last month, more than three years after Curley and Schultz were charged, upheld many of the charges and deferred ruling on others. Curley’s new Supreme Court filing indicates Hoover also issued sealed opinions regarding all three defendants.
Curley, Schultz and Spanier faces charges related to their handling of complaints about Sandusky, who was an assistant under then-Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and was convicted in 2012 of dozens of counts of child sexual abuse. Other charges against them relate to their grand jury testimony about the Sandusky matter.
Sandusky is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison. He maintains his innocence, acknowledging he showered with boys but saying he never molested them.
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