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Judge In Spanier Defamation Suit Against Freeh Recuses Himself

by on May 01, 2015 4:15 PM

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier's defamation lawsuit against Louis Freeh is getting a shakeup.

After presiding over the case for two years, Judge Jonathan Grine recused himself on Friday in response to a motion filed by Freeh in early April, according to court documents.

The former FBI director asked for Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover to preside over the case earlier this month, citing the fact that Hoover is also hearing Spanier's criminal trial in relation the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

Spanier filed a memorandum in opposition to Freeh's recusal request on Friday, but it didn't persuade Grine to stay on the case. Clare Locke LLP, the firm representing Spanier, was not immediately available for comment on the judge's decision.

In his filing on Friday, Spanier argued that "Judge Grine has presided over this action for nearly two years without any party voicing concern about his impartiality or fitness. ... [The] motion does not identify any conflict -- real or perceived -- that would prevent Judge Grine from presiding over this matter."

It is not yet clear if Hoover or another judge will take Grine's place. Hoover is taking a temporary medical leave of absence with no set return date, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Courts Administrative Office.

Grine's recusal says "another judge will be assigned to preside over this matter." It also cancels the pre-trial conference, which was set for May 13 at 2:15 p.m. It will be rescheduled by the new judge.

Spanier was one of four individuals singled out in Freeh’s report, commissioned by the university, as having culpability for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. He faces criminal charges along with former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Senior Vice President for Finance Gary Schultz for an alleged coverup. 

No trial date has been set in Spanier's criminal case. All three men have pleaded not guilty to charges related to the Sandusky's scandal.

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Zach Berger is the managing editor of StateCollege.com. He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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