Friday, June 1, 2012
Trial delay sought in Supreme Court
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Defense lawyers in Jerry Sandusky's child sex-abuse trial Friday asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for a delay, quickly appealing a same-day rejection from a lower court ahead of next week's scheduled start date.
A person familiar with the defense's court filing told The Associated Press that Sandusky's lawyers made the appeal Friday afternoon, a couple hours after a Superior Court panel issued a one-paragraph order denying the former Penn State assistant football coach's petition seeking its review of the matter.
The person requested anonymity, citing a gag order in the case.
The Superior Court panel also granted Sandusky's application to seal the defense filing.
Sandusky, 68, was arrested in November and faces 52 criminal counts for the alleged abuse of 10 boys over 15 years, allegations he denies. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in a central Pennsylvania courthouse Tuesday.
Sandusky's lawyers took the matter to the appeals court late Thursday, after the trial judge turned down the delay request. The defense team had said it wanted more time to review material from the prosecution and said a delay was warranted so their experts and potential witnesses could be available at trial.
Judge John Cleland, who will preside over the trial, wrote that another issue involved grand jury secrecy, so the motion for a continuance had been filed under seal.
By Friday evening, Cleland had not ruled on the defense's effort to have the charges thrown out. Sandusky's lawyers have argued that in some instances the allegations are too vague, and in other cases would rely on impermissible hearsay or lack sufficient evidence to put the charges before a jury.
The judge also had not addressed requests by five alleged victims for a court order that would prevent their identities from being disclosed to the public.
Jurors will be chosen from among residents of the area around State College where Sandusky lives, also home to Penn State's main campus. Opening statements are expected June 11.
Also on Friday, 13 news organizations filed a motion asking Cleland to clarify his decorum order as it related to electronic transmissions from inside the courtroom.
Cleland's order, issued Wednesday, said tweets and other transmissions were permitted but they could not include photographs or "any verbatim account" of the proceedings.
The news organizations, which include The Associated Press, argued that quotes are necessary to give readers an accurate account of the proceedings. They called a ban on direct quotations "impractical and difficult to implement," and unconstitutional as a prior restraint on free speech.
In a related case, the online court docket indicated that a judge Friday had granted a two-week time extension to file a pretrial discovery motion to lawyers who represent Penn State administrators charged with perjury and failure to properly report suspected abuse.
Gary Schultz, the now retired vice president, and Tim Curley, the athletic director on leave, have denied the allegations. Messages seeking comment from their lawyers and from state prosecutors were not immediately returned.