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Penn State Objects to Paterno Family's Subponea Request in NCAA Lawsuit

by on March 16, 2014 8:35 AM

Penn State University filed a slew of objections Friday to the Paterno family's pending subpoena request for massive amounts of documents from the university, Big Ten Athletic Conference and the NCAA.

Scott Paterno, on behalf of the family of the late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, filed a notice of intent to serve a subpoena to Penn State, the Big Ten and NCAA, demanding all documents related to the Louis Freeh investigation into the Jerry Sansudky child sex abuse scandal that resulted in unprecedented NCAA sanctions against Penn State's football program.

The Paterno family is joined in the lawsuit by several members of the Penn State Board of Trustees, former Nittany Lion football players, and university faculty members. The suit asks the court to overturn a consent decree Penn State has with the NCAA.

Penn State's attorney, Joseph Green of Lee Green & Reiter Law Firm in Bellefonte, objects to the Paterno's pending subpoena saying the request for such documents and other information, including phone records and emails, violates attorney-client privilege as well as other privileges – and also says the demands are unrealistic.

In a statement Paterno family spokesperson Dan McGinn says, "Under the direction of the court, the process for determining the full truth about the actions of the NCAA and the University is proceeding. If the NCAA, Louis Freeh and the University had conducted a full, fair and transparent investigation, this exercise would not be necessary.

"Because their actions fell well short of these standards, there is no choice but to proceed. For everyone who wants to know the truth about the Sandusky tragedy and how to prevent similar events in the future, we must do what is necessary to bring the full record to light."

The university also objects to the Paterno's request for electronically stored information, or ESI, collected by Freeh investigators saying that of the vast amount of the ESI and other materials collected from the university "only a very small percentage of that ESI and other materials have any relevance to the issues discussed in the Freeh report."

Additionally, the university says some documents requested cannot be released under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Criminal History Record Information Act. Other documents cannot be released because they are part of ongoing criminal investigations, the university says.

Furthermore, the university says meeting the demands by the plaintiffs "would be extremely costly, time consuming and excessively burdensome." And any costs the Freeh Firm incurs by meeting demands in a subpoena, the university would ultimately have to cover.

"The Paterno plaintiffs should not be allowed to impose those costs on Penn State by means of grossly overbroad and intrusive subpoena they seek to serve," Green says.

Green goes on to challenge the validity of the Paterno family as a legitimate plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"A decedent's 'family' is not a recognized legal entity with standing to sue," he says.

Penn State also objects to any request of documents dated after July 23, 2012 arguing they are "no relevant subject matter of this litigation, namely, the consent decree." The university also says many of the documents requested are already in the public domain and available to the plaintiffs.

The consent decree allowed the NCAA to impose unprecedented sanctions against Penn State's football program. The sanctions, imposed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal include a reduction in football scholarships, a ban on bowl appearances, and the vacating of 111 wins under Paterno.

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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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