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Freeh Ordered to Show Cause in Request to Move Spanier Suit to Federal Court

by on August 18, 2014 12:50 PM

A judge has ordered former FBI director Louis Freeh and his attorneys to show cause as to why the defamation lawsuit ousted Penn State President Graham Spanier filed against Freeh should be moved to federal court.

U.S. Middle District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion said in an order Friday that Freeh's attorneys should "show cause as to why the case should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction" on or before Aug. 25.

In July, Freeh's attorneys asked to have Spanier's defamation lawsuit moved from Centre County Common Pleas Court to U.S. Middle District Court.

The defendant's attorneys argued in the filing the case should be heard in federal court because Freeh and members of his firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, are not residents of Pennsylvania.

In Friday's order, Mannion says Freeh's notice of removal is "insufficient."

"Here, defendants have not affirmatively plead the citizenship of the members of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, or explained their relationship to Pepper Hamilton LLP (the successor to Freeh's original law firm). Defendants' allegations are thus not sufficient to invoke the jurisdiction of this court," says Mannion.

At Spanier's request, a Centre County judge granted a stay in this lawsuit last February due to the former Penn State president's looming criminal trial. Freeh appealed that decision to Pennsylvania's Superior Court, which ruled it lacked jurisdiction.

Freeh's attorneys argued Spanier should not have been given a stay in the case because he has yet to publicly state his defamation allegations against Freeh.

Spanier announced his intent to sue Freeh last summer after the former FBI director released a report paid for by the university. In the report, Freeh wrote that Spanier was part of a conspiracy to cover up abuse allegations related to former football coach Jerry Sandusky.

In 2012, a jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and a judge sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in state prison.

Spanier and two other former Penn State administrators face charges of perjury and failure to report abuse as a result of their handling of Sandusky allegations. All three men have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

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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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