June 5th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

This is going to be an extremely ugly trial even by the standards of this subject matter.  My impression is that the defense is going to attack the witnesses for issues that aren't directly related to Sandusky and also argue that some of what happened was consensual...It also seems like the defense is going to try to conjure the ghost of Joe Paterno, via his son and widow, to testify to Sandusky's character.  The benefit the defense has is that Sue and Jay can say he was a great guy but also claim that they don't know why Joe fired him when he did.


June 5th, 2012 at 2:07 PM ^

My memory is not consistent with the findings of Google.  I thought PA had a particularly odd law re: consent and at minors of a certain age, but I can't find it.  I also only see speculation that Sandusky's attorney may argue that some of what happened was consensual, so about half of what I said was ill-founded. 


June 5th, 2012 at 2:13 PM ^


The age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16 years of age for sexual consent but a corruption of minors statute against adults corrupting the morals of minors under 18 years' of age exists which makes the de facto age of consent in Pennsylvania 18. However, the corruption of minors statute only applies to perpetrators 18 years of age and older, so it is legal for minors 16-17 to have sex with each other but not with a partner 18 or older.

Teenagers aged 13, 14 and 15 may or may not be able to legally engage in sexual activity with partners who are less than 4 years older. Such partners could not be prosecuted under statutory rape laws, but may be liable for other offenses, even when the sexual activity is consensual.


June 5th, 2012 at 2:14 PM ^

Consent isn't an issue, and hopefully most of the other victim-related stuff will stay out. Between character evidence rules (FRE 404) and rape shield laws, most of the character assassination stuff (at least re: the victims) will probably be avoided. Besides, attacking child victims (even as adults) is really dicey terrain for a defense attorney.


June 5th, 2012 at 2:19 PM ^

This attorney...and I'm trying to be careful in what I say...seems like a risk-taker, and one can imagine a situation in which an initially acceptable attack on someone's credibility turns into something else. 



June 5th, 2012 at 1:05 PM ^

As a prosecutor I can tell you that listing witnesses is far more about preserving your right to call them at trial than it is about your actual intent to call them...

That being said, I'd be stunned of they didn't call McQuery. The case is nearly impossible to prove wothout him.


June 5th, 2012 at 1:26 PM ^

I was thinking the same thing with regards to Sue Paterno. I'm not sure what value she could bring a prosecutor and how willing they would be to subject her to cross examination. Jay Paterno seems like he could be useful, McQuery and his father seem essential.


June 5th, 2012 at 1:05 PM ^

On one hand, that might be the only jury I wouldn't want to get out of. On the other hand, that case is going to go on for weeks as the defense tries to invalidate each witness. I wouldn't want to be stuck in court that long. Gonna be tough for the defense to find an acceptable jury. I don't know anyone who doesn't already think he's guilty and should fry.


June 5th, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

Regarding the jury, how can they find one that is going to objectively consider the evidence, and make a decision based on that, rather than acting on their pre-conceived feelings or emotions about this? Is that even the goal in a case as highly publicized as this? Because, unless they find people who are completely cut off from society, won't just about every jury member have heard of the story and already made up their mind about Sandusky?


June 5th, 2012 at 3:09 PM ^

Functionally you are correct, there will never be a jury that can be comprised of people totally shut off from society without knowledge of this case.  The fact that a potential juror knows about the story, however, does not necessarily preclude them from serving on the jury.  The attorneys are allowed to ask questions of the jurors thru voir dire and in doing so they have to make some rather subjective evaluations about jurors.  Obviously someone could say "I know all about this guy and he is guilty! GUILTY!!" and they would of course be precluded from service.  The problem is that that kind of stuff almost never happens (unless one wants to get out of jury duty).

Instead, what you have to do as the attorney making their precious few challenges, is to get a feel from the person to see if, although they have heard the story in the news, they will be open minded and true to the judicial proceedings.  The attorneys job is to make sure the jury is properly vetted thru voir dire so that you get the best chance of having people willing to listen to the evidence and act in accordance with the jury instructions.   

Obviously the potential jurors will be asked if they have heard details and, if so, if they have prejudged him one way or another.  Most people in my experience will try to give the "right" answer to that question and say no even when it clearly is "yes yes yes fry the bastard yes" so it becomes a bit of an art for the attorney to "get a feel" for the person and challenge them accordingly.  

It will be a difficult jury selection I would imagine, but the standard does not have to be that someone has never heard of Sandusky at all.  


French West Indian

June 5th, 2012 at 1:21 PM ^

...does a trial even matter?  Even if he were somehow found not guilty, Sandusky is notorious enough now that his life would be a living hell even if he were free to walk the street.

And given the carnage he caused, it probably only be days before somebody clunked him on the head...or he mysteriously died in an "accident."


June 5th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

Different burdens of proof, different issues, etc. A not-guilty verdict only says that prosecutors can't demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that these things occured based on the evidence they are permitted to introduce. You can fire people on way less evidence than that. Besides, most people weren't fired specifically because Sanducky committed a crime. They were fired for a host of other reasons, such as failing to report suspected abuse and conduct detrimental to the University.

Think of the end of A Few Good Men. They were supposed to fight for people who couldn't fight for themselves. Their actions merit firing, even if Sandusky isn't convicted.


June 5th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^

Gotta say that this is one trial that i am just not looking forward to in any way.  And with today's multimedia 24 hours news cycle, not sure if there's going to be any way to avoid it.


June 5th, 2012 at 2:03 PM ^

For those of you who don't remember the Sandusky Rules from last fall, most pedophilia-related jokes will be deleted, even if they are fairly harmless.