Tuesday, February 16, 2016

AG ask court to reargue Penn State administrators' successful appeal

Two weeks after the state Superior Court tossed numerous charges against three ex-Penn State administrators facing prosecution over their handling of sex-abuse allegations, the Office of Attorney General filed a request to have the case reargued before an en banc panel of the frontline appeals court, reported The Legal Intelligencer.

Questions had lingered about whether the office would seek reargument given that the Superior Court's three-judge panel was unanimous and the opinion blasted some of the prosecutor's conduct. But according to some attorneys, the loss of the conspiracy and contempt charges was a significant blow to the prosecution, and, while the three still face child-endangerment-related charges, those might be more difficult cases to make.
Matthew Mangino, defense attorney and former Lawrence County district attorney, said that, while the Lynn decision indicates that child endangerment statutes could be applied to supervisors even if the conduct occurred before the 2007 change, the Lynn case might be distinguishable from the cases against the former Penn State administrators.
"Lynn was responsible for looking into sex offenders in the clergy. That really wasn't the role of" Spanier, Curley or Schultz, Mangino said. "But it still looks like the statute could apply."
Even if the statutes can be applied to the ex-administrators, Mangino said prosecutors still have an uphill battle in proving exactly what the defendants knew and when they knew it.
"This Lynn decision doesn't make the prosecution of these three defendants a slam dunk," Mangino said.
Attorneys said it is difficult to know whether the Office of Attorney General's decision to appeal was based solely on the belief that the Superior Court made an error, or whether the appeal was based on the mentality of fighting every loss in an effort to preserve the strongest charges.
Cohen said the institutional judgment of many prosecutors is to "move forward and do what you can to prosecute every case that you bring," but he said the appeal will likely be "fruitless" and the office should stop and "take a look at where they are at this point."
However, according to Mangino, the office's decision to appeal the Superior Court's decision should only hinge on its belief that the three-judge panel erred in its ruling, and should not be based on the potential viability of any of the remaining claims.
"Just because there's a recent decision from the appellate court that bolsters the charges you have remaining, even if you think those charges are viable, that's not going to have much of an impact," Mangino said.
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amazing....there's nothing else but testimony from the clients 'legal council'. Pretty weak case if you ask me. It seems Kangaroo Courts still exist in Pennsylvania.

wendy silverwood said...

Matt - totally agree with your comments. Why Cynthia Baldwin has not been disbarred is mind-boggling, and several complaints on Frank Fina have been filed with the Pa Disciplinary Board - where they eventually wind up, who knows?

That said - the not so secret "secret emails" that were leaked to the press, were in the hands of the OAG in response to Subpoena 1179, well BEFORE Louis Freeh was even HIRED.

Louis Freeh lied in his press conference when he said his "team" found them. He lied about a lot of other things too, but I digress.

Frank Fina kept then PSU President Rodney Erickson appraised of his "flip" strategy he manufactured against Messrs. Curley & Schultz. Rodney had this all jotted down in his personal notebook - which he seems to have left behind in a meeting and it is now...cough,"lost", cough.

The intended target of that 2011 presentment was Dr. Spanier. (it's all about the trophy, isn't it?)

So while Spanier was the trophy pelt intended to be nailed up on Tom Corbett's wall - the idea was to placed the public ire and media fire on Curley and Schultz to "flip" on Spanier, in order to save their own backsides. That way their testimony can be used and no trial happens. Fina effectively silenced Curley & Schultz so as not to impeach Mike McQueary's testimony, which was ever-changing, and ironically, found not-credible by the jury.

One problem with Fina's strategy - no one flipped. These guys have been effectively arrested, charged and tried in the Court of Public Opinion.

When is this "Nifonging" by yet another prosecutor going to be decried?

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