Monday, June 4, 2012
Updated: June 5, 7:03 AM ET
No delay in Jerry Sandusky trial
ESPN.com news services
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Jerry Sandusky lost a last-ditch effort to delay the pending start of his child molestation trial when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court turned down his request Monday.
The high court issued a one-paragraph order denying the former Penn State assistant football coach's bid for a delay. The justices didn't publicly reveal their reasoning.
Sandusky's lawyers sought the justice's review late Friday, after the trial judge and a lower-level appeals court rejected several defense attempts to forestall the proceedings.
The decision leaves jury selection scheduled to get under way Tuesday morning, with opening statements expected to begin on June 11.
The 68-year-old Sandusky faces more than 50 criminal charges for alleged abuse of 10 boys over 15 years, allegations he has repeatedly denied. He remains confined to his home as he awaits trial.
Sandusky's lawyer, Joe Amendola, has argued that more time was needed to wade through information turned over by prosecutors, and to help make defense experts and witnesses available for trial.
Judge John Cleland, who will preside at the trial in Bellefonte, said last week that "no date for trial is ever perfect, but some dates are better than others."
Amendola said Sandusky will be present for jury selection.
On Monday, Cleland ruled that the alleged victims will have to testify using their real names, and tweets or other electronic communications by reporters will not be permitted during the trial.
Lawyers for several of the accusers had asked that their clients be allowed to testify under pseudonyms. Cleland said they must use their real names, but that he and lawyers will "cooperate when possible" to protect witness privacy and personal information.
"Arguably any victim of any crime would prefer not to appear in court, not to be subjected to cross-examination, not to have his or her credibility evaluated by a jury -- not to put his name and reputation at stake," the judge wrote. "But we ask citizens to do that every day in courts across the nation."
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, typically do not identify people who say they were sexually abused.
Ben Andreozzi, who represents one of the alleged victims, said the ruling won't stop his client from testifying against Sandusky, but that having his name made public in open court could make it harder for him to live his life.
"It's almost as if he's being branded with a scarlet letter," Andreozzi said. "This is something he may not ever be able to escape from -- 'Oh, he's one of Jerry Sandusky's victims.' "
Cleland, who has not yet ruled on defense motions to have some or all of the charges thrown out, also denied a request by Sandusky's lawyer to order the attorney general's office to turn over information it has collected about potential jurors. Cleland said there was not enough evidence to warrant a hearing on the matter, and noted that prosecutors have said they have only done what a diligent defense attorney would do.
"Even if the commonwealth collected the information in this case in the manner the defense asserts and which the commonwealth denies, I do not believe that the information is constitutionally required to be turned over to the defense," Cleland wrote.
The basis for the defense request was an anonymous letter that claims to list the information prosecutors have collected.
"A motion filed by counsel must be supported by allegations of fact backed up with some credible basis to believe the allegations to be true," Cleland wrote. "Otherwise the court and counsel can be engaged in chasing chimeras."
Cleland previously had said he would allow electronic communication, but not photographs or the recording or broadcasting of any verbatim account of the proceedings while court is in session.
The AP and other media groups sought clarification on Friday. In response, Cleland rescinded permission for any electronic communications from inside the Centre County courtroom.
"It is readily apparent from the allegations in the media's motion ... that the standard I applied in my definition is confusing to reporters, unworkable, and, therefore, likely unenforceable," the judge wrote.
The rules Cleland put in place are typical for Pennsylvania trials. He noted a state criminal procedure court rule that prohibits transmission of proceedings in session by phone, radio, TV, or "advanced communication technology."
At least 250 reporters have registered to attend the trial.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Arguably any victim of any crime would prefer not to appear in court, not to be subjected to cross-examination, not to have his or her credibility evaluated by a jury -- not to put his name and reputation at stake. But we ask citizens to do that every day in courts across the nation.
-- Judge John Cleland