Sandusky judge contests defense attorney's appeal of a judicial order

By Jon Campisi | Sep 21, 2012

The Pennsylvania judge who presided over the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse case is

asking a state appeals court to uphold his order requiring Sandusky’s defense team to give a list of names of people to whom the lawyers provided case materials to who weren’t directly involved in the trial proceedings.

In a Sept. 20 filing, Judge John M. Cleland, who oversaw the June trial that ended with the conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on child molestation charges, contests defense attorney Karl E. Rominger’s appeal of Cleland’s June 26 order requiring Rominger and co-counsel Joseph Amendola to supply certain information to Cleland and the supervising judge of the investigating grand jury.

Cleland had ordered the defense lawyers to supply him with the names of those trial outsiders who were given certain case materials, a move that was apparently sparked by a previously unpublicized police interview with Sandusky’s son, Matt, in which the man alleged he, too, had suffered sex-abuse at the hands of his father.

That interview made it into the hands of local media, something that irked Cleland because materials that weren’t used at trial are still considered to be part of the ongoing grand jury investigation, which is a secret process.

According to the recent filing, Cleland succeeded in obtaining the requested information from Amendola but not Rominger.

Following Cleland’s initial order, Rominger filed a motion laying out why he feels the judge’s order to turn over the requested names and materials was issued in error; for one thing, Rominger stated that he viewed the move as one-sided, since the same information was apparently not requested of prosecutors.

In his Sept. 20 filing, Cleland says he believes Rominger’s appeal of the earlier order to the state Superior Court should be dismissed because Cleland’s June 26 order is not considered a “final order” under the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure and therefore not appealable.

Cleland wrote that the June 26 order could not be a final order until Rominger, “at the very least, had either filed a motion raising his concerns that would have given me the opportunity to address them; or until he refused to comply with the Order and, after hearing, he had been held in contempt. He has done neither. His appeal, therefore, appears to be premature and I respectfully suggest it should be dismissed.”

Cleland went on to write in his filing that if the Superior Court disagrees, and decides to review the matter on its merits, “I respectfully request an opportunity to file a supplemental opinion explaining the purpose and rationale for the entry of the Order and addressing specifically the issues raised on appeal.”

Sandusky, the 69-year-old former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions, was convicted in late June of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year time period.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 9 in Centre County Court.

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