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Penn State Appeals Ruling To Release Freeh Investigation Documents in Paterno Suit

by on October 08, 2014 3:26 PM

Penn State is appealing a ruling in the lawsuit brought against the NCAA by the Paterno Estate and former assistant coaches Jay Paterno and William Kenney, according to court documents filed on Wednesday.

Penn State, which was added as a nominal defendant to the suit in January, takes issue with a September 11 ruling on a request to produce a large number of documents pertaining to the Freeh Report and investigation of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

The ruling found that these documents – including emails gathered during the investigation and other internal communications regarding the investigation – are not subject to the same level of confidentiality as communications between an attorney and client.

Penn State had previously argued that these documents should be subject to the same privilege as attorney-client correspondence.

The court did find that communications directly between the Freeh Group and Penn State may be considered confidential, but this does not extend to the documents themselves gathered in the investigation.

The September 11 ruling says of the roughly 3.5 million source documents from the investigation, only a small number may be relevant to any alleged wrongdoing, and only these relevant documents should be produced.

According to court documents, the court found that this process should “fall to the plaintiffs to provide search terms to Penn State to perform the search” of the documents, rather than requiring Penn State to “turn over the database to the plaintiffs to allow the plaintiffs to run their own search.”

“This would allow Penn State to screen for and produce a privilege log prior to exposing privileged documents to plaintiffs,” the ruling says.

Penn State is appealing the ruling to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

The lawsuit includes the Paterno Estate, Jay Paterno, William Kenney and several university trustees and former football players as plaintiffs. The NCAA, its president and former chairman and Penn State are listed as defendants.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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