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Attorney General Kathleen Kane Asks Federal Court to Throw Out Spanier Lawsuit

by on April 03, 2014 9:34 AM

Attorney General Kathleen Kane asked a federal court this week to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former Penn State President Graham Spanier.

Spanier's criminal defense attorney, Elizabeth Ainslie, filed the suit in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania, asking the court to put a stop to the criminal charges leveled against him by the Attorney General's office.

Specifically, the suit asks the court to halt the criminal prosecution of several charges related to an alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse by convicted pedophile and former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Kane fired back this week asking the federal court to dismiss Spanier's suit, arguing "this court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction" over the ongoing criminal matter at the state level.

Defense attorneys have made motions in Dauphin County Court to have the charges thrown out. In a similar effort, Spanier's attorney filed the suit Monday, which argues the Attorney General's office "violated and continues to violate (Spanier's) constitutional right to due process of law."

Ainslie argues the Attorney General's office violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which says that no state may, "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Ainslie argues the Attorney General's office violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Kane argues that Spanier fails to state a cause of action under the due process clause.

The suit specifically targets the tactics of former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, who was lead prosecutor in the grand jury investigation, saying Fina used dishonesty to obtain Spanier's testimony. Ainslie argues Fina allowed Spanier to testify before the grand jury after Penn State Special Counsel Cynthia Baldwin said she represented Penn State as an institution, not Spanier individually.

Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, and retired Senior Vice President for Finance Gary Schultz say they thought Baldwin was their personal attorney. They believe her testimony before the grand jury violated attorney-client privilege therefore criminal charges should be dismissed or their grand jury testimonies suppressed from any criminal trial.

Prosecutors have argued through legal documents that Baldwin's testimony was not part of the evidence used to establish probable cause during the defendants' preliminary hearing therefore the prosecution has a legitimate case.

The prosecution also says the defendants' claim that Baldwin had a conflict of interest by representing both the defendants and Penn State is wrong. Instead, they say the defendants and Penn State shared interests.

Additionally, the Attorney General's office argues that any advice Baldwin provided the defendants would not have changed the outcome of the grand jury investigation. And if the defendants assumed Baldwin represented them individually, the agency says the claim of an attorney-client privilege violation still does not exist due to a crime-fraud exception.

Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover is presiding over the case for Spanier, Curley and Schultz. The criminal proceeding is taking place in Dauphin County because that is where the grand jury met and where the charge of perjury allegedly occurred.

All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison for 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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