The judge in Jerry Sandusky's criminal case Wednesday did not immediately resolve remaining disputes over what information the defense is entitled to from schools, child services agencies and others, but he said he wanted to swiftly resolve the disagreements and push the case toward trial.
Judge John Cleland also did not rule on lawyer Joe Amendola's new request to delay the start of trial, currently scheduled for June 5, but he did open a pretrial hearing Wednesday by noting the "trial is approaching" for the former Penn State assistant football coach.
Cleland said he may throw out parts of some defense subpoenas rather than quash entire demands. He also suggested he would review some of the documentation in private to try to quickly resolve some of the disagreements.
Pennsylvania law, the judge said, contains a "normally predominant prinicple that we should use all legitimate means to ascertain the truth."
Sandusky, 68, is largely confined to his State College home to await the start of his trial on 52 criminal counts involving 10 boys over 15 years, and was not in the courtroom for the proceeding, which lasted less than two hours. He has denied the allegations.
Amendola has made dozens of requests for records or other material, much of it background information on the accusers, including school transcripts, medical records going back to birth, Internet search histories, Facebook account details, employment-related documents and cellphone and Twitter records. Going into the hearing prosecutors were prepared to review the state of the requests to the attorney general's office, but Amendola appeared to take them by surprise by announcing there were no remaining discovery disputes with them.
The requests to schools, agencies and others consumed the bulk of the hearing. Cleland said some elements of the defense subpoenas may be too broad, but he also suggested to lawyers that he would likely just black out the parts they do not have to provide.
In some cases, lawyers said they did not have information being sought, or were willing to turn over specific records. In other cases, they argued that material was exempt from disclosure.
"Any information we get, we will keep in the strictest confidence," Amendola said. "We have taken great lengths to keep things confidential that we receive that are private in nature."
Amendola told the judge the defense is looking for "any evidence that these students suffered from behavioral issues, mental health issues, prior to their contact with The Second Mile or the defendant." Sandusky founded The Second Mile as a charity for at-risk youth and met many of his alleged victims there.
The charity's lawyer, Howard Rosenthal, said it shouldn't be forced to turn over some of the material and noted that two of the alleged victims object to any disclosure of their records to Sandusky.
Amendola said that "a number" of the accusers have criminal records and that he suspects prosecutors will try to argue the accusers' legal problems stem from the abuse they endured as children.
Amendola said in his request to delay the trial that the defense team needs more time to find and interview witnesses, and that pending criminal charges against two potential witnesses, Penn State administrators Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, have made them unavailable as witnesses in June. Continued...