One of the attorneys handling the appeal of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky has
filed court papers outlining why the defense team believes their client’s conviction and sentence should be overturned.
Norris E. Gelman, who, along with lawyer Joseph L. Amendola is handling the appeal, wrote in a three-page filing dated March 11 that the trial court abused its discretion and violated Sandusky’s due process rights when it denied defense motions for a continuance in the Sandusky child sex-abuse case.
Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions, was convicted on 45 counts of child sex-abuse last June and sentenced four months later to between 30 and 60 years in state prison.
Given Sandusky’s age – he is in his late 60s – the prison term is essentially viewed as a life sentence.
The defense team has maintained that John M. Cleland wrongly denied post-trial motions seeking a new trial on the grounds that Sandusky’s lawyers weren’t given enough time to prepare a proper defense.
The claim is that the attorneys didn’t have enough time to go through the “vast amount of material turned over by the prosecution to the defense when trial was imminent,” states the appeals filing, known as a 1925(b) statement.
“The error in denying the requested continuances interfered with the defendant’s right to counsel, preventing time to prepare which is a constructive denial of the right, and as a result, the Defendant is not required to show prejudice,” Gelman wrote in his filing.
Gelman also contends that a reversible error was committed when the trial court refused a defense request to give jury instructions on the failure of the sex-abuse victims to make a prompt complaint to law enforcement, and that the court erred when it required jurors to weigh the testimony of Sandusky’s character witnesses against all of the other evidence in the case.
These two things, the filing alleges, impaired Sandusky’s credibility defense as well as his good character defense.
Additionally, Sandusky’s defense team asserts that a reversible error occurred when the prosecutor in the case commented adversely on Sandusky’s not testifying at trial.
Cleland, a senior trial court judge who had been specially appointed to oversee the case against Sandusky, had earlier outlining an opinion why he believed the conviction and subsequent sentence were appropriate.