Sandusky judge denies defense motion to postpone jury selection

By Jon Campisi | May 31, 2012

The judge presiding over the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse case has denied a defense motion to postpone jury selection.

In a May 30 memorandum order, Judge John M. Cleland denied a May 25 motion by Sandusky’s defense attorney, Joseph Amendola, which sought to push back jury selection, currently scheduled for June 5.

The defense motion had been filed under seal because it contained references to secret grand jury matters, Cleland wrote.

According to Cleland’s order, Sandusky’s defense team had presented four reasons for requesting a delay that the judge was able to address publicly, and one that could not because of grand jury secrecy.

The four public reasons offered by Amendola for his seeking a postponement were as follows: there is an inability of experts to attend the trial or be prepared to assist the defense; one of the defense team’s paralegal’s is facing an impending surgery and wouldn’t be available to assist on the case; the defense has run into difficulty in reviewing certain discovery materials provided by state prosecutors; and there has been an inability for the defense to call as witnesses Gary Schultz and Timothy Curly because they have asserted their Fifth Amendment privileges and will refuse to testify at trial.

Schultz, a now-retired former Penn State vice president, and Curley, the university’s athletic director on leave following criminal charges, each face counts relating to allegedly lying to the grand jury investigating the sex-abuse claims against Sandusky.

In denying Amendola’s motion, Cleland wrote that if the trial was delayed to provide defense counsel additional time to address these issues, there is no assurance that the issues at hand will be resolved in the “foreseeable future.”

“It is equally likely, and perhaps more likely, that the immediate issues will simply be replaced by issues even more complex as this prosecution and its related litigation unfolds, causing even more requests for delay,” Cleland stated in his order.

“While I certainly do not doubt the sincerity of defense counsel in requesting a continuance, the reality of our system of justice is that no date for trial is ever perfect, but some dates are better than others,” the order continues. “While June 5th does present its problems, on balance and considering all the interests involved – the defendant’s right to a fair trial, the alleged victims’ right [to] their day in court, the Commonwealth’s obligation to prosecute promptly, and the public’s expectation that justice will be timely done – no date will necessarily present a better alternative.”

Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions, faces more than 50 counts of child sexual abuse.

He was arrested this past November following a grand jury presentment.

The scandal led to the firing of longtime head football coach Joe Paterno, who died shortly after he was relieved of his duties.

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