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New Sandusky Appeal Claims Multiple Errors by Defense Team

by on May 07, 2015 12:05 PM

Convicted child abuser Jerry Sandusky has launched a new legal campaign aimed at getting his conviction overturned.

In a court motion filed Wednesday, Jerry Sandusky's latest attorney requested a new trial under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA).

In his petition, attorney Alexander Lindsay Jr. asks for a new trial and the dismissal of charges against Sandusky.

The motion states, "Sandusky maintains that he is innocent of the charges for which he was convicted, and that his conviction was the result of a violation of his constitutional rights ..." and that he received ineffective counsel from his former attorneys.

Sandusky was represented at trial by attorneys Jerry Amendola and Karl Rominger. He was also represented by attorney Norris Gelman during his appeals to the state superior court and the state supreme court. Those appeals were denied. The appeal under PCRA, which runs more than 100 pages, raises a number of questions about the way Sandusky's case was handled.

That includes a decision to allow Sandusky to go on national television shortly after the child sex abuse allegations were first reported. The appeal says, "On November 11, 2011, Mr. Sandusky's trial counsel inexplicably advised him to sit for an interview with NBC Sports journalist Bob Costas, without any notice that he would be interviewed or preparation for any interview."

Lindsay says there was not enough time to prepare, noting that Sandusky's trial began "a mere 152 days" after he was arraigned.

The appeal claims that the flurry of national reporting about the case generated a "highly prejudicial pretrial atmosphere" adding that "Mr. Sandusky's due process right to a fair trial was not only infringed, it was crushed under a stampede of vitriol, rage and prejudice that mandate a new trial in this case."

It also says a number of events inflamed passions and created a hostile atmosphere, including riots following Joe Paterno's firing, Paterno's death, alleged grand jury leaks and the possibility that Penn State's football program was facing the "death penalty" as part of an investigation by the NCAA.

The appeal faults Sandusky's legal team for a host of alleged errors and mistakes:

  • Opposing a motion for a change of venue for the trial.
  • The motion claims that Sandusky's attorneys did not try hard enough to withdraw from the case once they determined they did not have time to prepare an adequate defense. "Put simply, they should have refused to go forward."
  • Failing to objecting to "expert" testimony from a caseworker. The appeal says the caseworker was not qualified.
  • The appeal raises concerns about failures to object to supposedly improper testimony, allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and for promising the jury that Sandusky would testify.
  • Lindsay also cites the prosecution's closing argument in which a prosecutor pointed out to the jury that Sandusky did not testify. The appeal calls that a violation of Sandusky's constitutional right to remain silent, and says defense lawyers should have objected and demanded a mistrial.
  • Should not have asked a psychologist to testify about letters Sandusky sent to some of the victims, calling that irrelevant.
  • Amendola had no unified defense strategy. The appeal says "Counsel was so patently ineffective , that he essentially abandoned Mr. Sandusky, leaving him without any defense."
  • Claims Amendola put "the last nail in the coffin" when he testified during a hearing following the trial. Asked about the mountains of discovery material he had reviewed through, Amendola reportedly stated he would not have changed his conduct during the trial.

Also, the appeal says that Sandusky wasn't allowed to call former Penn State administrators as witnesses, including Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. Those three men are charged with trying to cover up the Sandusky scandal, and have yet to go on trial. All three men say they are innocent.

The appeal further suggests that some of the victims had a financial motive, saying that at least some of the victims' stories about abuse allegations didn't surface until after against they had already hired attorneys to represent them in litigation against Penn State.

Sandusky was convicted on June 22, 2012 on 45 of 48 counts involving child sex abuse charges. He is now serving 30 to 60 years in state prison.

 

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Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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