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Cleland Denies Request for Trial Delay in Sandusky Case

on February 29, 2012 5:47 PM

Judge John M. Cleland, presiding in the Jerry Sandusky criminal case, has refused a defense request for a mid-July trial.

Lead defense attorney Joseph Amendola, in a filing dated Friday, had sought a two-month delay in the target trial date. Cleland has set that target for mid-May, with jury selection to begin May 14.

Amendola argued that, given the volume of material to process and witnesses to interview in the case, the defense needs more time. He also indicated that some key witnesses would likely be unavailable to testify in mid-May.

But Cleland, in an order Wednesday, wrote that parties in the case agreed on Jan. 9 to a May 14 trial date.

"It must be remembered ... that (the) trial is still two and a half months -- 10 and one-half weeks -- away," Cleland wrote. "There is no assurance at this point that any delay of the trial to mid-July will not, in turn, give rise to subsequent issues prompting a request for still more delay. Delay has a way of begetting delay.

"Therefore, the postponement of a trial should be the last resort, and granted only after all other attempts to remedy the impediments to the conduct of a prompt trial have been exhausted," Cleland continued.

To help speed the defense's work in locating and interviewing witnesses, Cleland wrote, state prosecutors must turn over to the defense -- within seven days -- the addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses identified in prosecution discovery materials.

Prosecutors may object to that mandate by filing a motion for a protective order, Cleland wrote.

On another front, Amendola had argued the defense expects to pursue records from agencies and individuals. It may seek interviews with potential witnesses that could arise from said records, he argued. The defense may also seek expert witnesses, Amendola wrote.

And all of those things, he argued, would be expected to prolong the defense's preparation time.

But Cleland wrote he wasn't swayed by "these unsupported references to unidentified witnesses who might testify about unspecified issues ... ."

Cleland did, however, grant Amendola's request for a deadline extension for a pretrial motion. That deadline has been moved from March 1 to March 22.

The full text of Cleland's order Wednesday can be viewed via the Centre County website.

Earlier coverage is available via the page linked below.

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