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Sandusky Case: Pa. Supreme Court Denies Defense's Request for Denial, Judge Nixes Victims' Request for Identity Protection

by on June 04, 2012 10:11 AM

Updated at 4:10 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Jerry Sandusky's request for further delay of his trial on Monday, reaffirming the Superior Court's decision and Judge Cleland's order. 

In a one-sentence document filed Monday, the state Supreme Court denied the "Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief." 

The application to seal the petition was granted, but the motion to stay was denied. 

Jury selection starts at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in the child sexual abuse trial of the former Penn State football assistant coach.

Earlier at 10:11 a.m.

Judge John Cleland denied Victims' requests to protect their identity on the witness stand and banned live coverage from the courtroom one day before jury selection is set to start in the Jerry Sandusky trial. 

Supported by seven organizations committed to the prevention and awareness of abuse, Victims 3, 4, 5 6 and 7 filed motions last week that requested they be permitted to use a pseudonym for the duration of the trial in order to protect their personal information. 

Judge Cleland acknowledged the defense voiced no issue over the alleged Victims' request, but the Commonwealth explained to the petitioners that there is no legal basis for their claim. 

Cleland said he did not see any support from Pennsylvania law that would allow him to grant anonymity to adult witnesses based on the type that victimized the witness. 

Only one of the alleged victims supported the petition with evidence of potential harm, which even then was too general, Cleland said.

"While I will make every effort to be sensitive to the nature of the alleged victims' testimony, once the trial begins the veil must be lifted," Cleland wrote. 

"Courts are not customarily in the business of withholding information. 

Secrecy is thought to be inconsistent with the openness required to assure the public that the law is being administered fairly and applied faithfully." 

Meanwhile, Judge Cleland amended the decorum order regarding media so that now any electronic communication from the courtroom during trial is prohibited. No live updates or tweets will be allowed while court is in session. 

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, previously asked the court to order the Commonwealth to allow him to copy all juror information the Office of the Attorney General collected prior to jury selection. 

Amendola wrote that, for Sandusky, it is "fundamentally unfair and a violation of his due process and equal protection rights" for that information to be withheld, given the "unlimited investigative, financial and governmental resources," maintained by the prosecution. 

Amendola also requested a hearing to decide whether the Commonwealth needed to turn over the information.

Judge Cleland denied this request based on the defense's lack of an affidavit backing up its allegations and because of the Commonwealth's argument that any juror background information it has developed is protected by the "attorney work product privilege" and does not need to be turned over to the defense. 

Sandusky, 68, faces 52 counts in a child sexual abuse case. He maintains his innocence. 

The trial is set to start at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Courtroom One of the Centre County Courthouse. 

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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