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Spanier, Curley and Schultz Seek Delay of Trial, Void Baldwin's Testimony

by on November 28, 2012 4:17 PM

The three former top Penn State administrators on trial in connection with their role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case are attempting to push back their preliminary hearing and suppress the testimony of former counsel.

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz face five counts each of perjury, endangering the welfare of children, failure to report, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice. 

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 13 at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, and counsel for the three men have each filed motions for continuance, according to the Pennsylvania state court docket.

The court documents are not yet available online, said Jim Koval, Director of Communications and Intergovernmental Relations for the state judicial system.

They have also filed to preclude the testimony of former Penn State counsel Cynthia Baldwin, who stepped down in January. Baldwin represented Curley and Schultz at their preliminary hearing in Dec. 2011 but concurrently represented Penn State and testified before the grand jury, which counsel for the men says is a conflict of interest and should have never been allowed by the prosecution. 

Baldwin testified that Spanier was aware of allegations made against Sandusky, both in 1998 and in 2001.

If her testimony is not suppressed, it could set a dangerous precedent, legal expert, attorney and former prosecutor Dave Pedri said. 

"As soon as I saw that, I thought it could potentially raise ethical issues," Pedri said. "If she is subpoenaed and forced to testify by a judge, then she has to abide."

The idea behind lawyer-client privilege, Pedri said, is that the client has complete confidence his lawyer is completely focused and committed to the case. A lawyer has access to certain ideas and documents that are not public. 

"If you are forced to disclose that, it could have extremely detrimental consequences for the client. I don't think she personally did anything wrong . . . the question is, was a subpoena witness under the authority of the judge?" Pedri said.

Caroline Roberto, Curley's attorney, has said that she does not believe the charges will hold up in court. The defense has cited perjury as being too hard to prosecute and the lack of corroborating witnesses as reasons their clients will not serve any time. 

Pedri said that rarely cases have evidence such as video tape or audio evidence, and prosecutors have to make charges based on an exhaustive investigation that garners all possible information.

"The prosecution knows that this is a difficult case. I'm sure they were aware of that when they charged it," he said. "As a prosecutor, you have to tie in every loose corner you have, but you're never going to have the full story, ever, when you're there."

However, Pedri says he sees no reason to believe a judge would throw out the case against Spanier, Curley and Schultz. Leaving out Baldwin's testimony, though, could be a possibility. 

"The motions to suppress I believe are valid. The judge is going to have a very difficult decision to make, but I see all of these charges making it to a jury and a jury making a decision," Pedri said.

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