BELLEFONTE — Jerry Sandusky was back in the Centre County courtroom Thursday where he was convicted of molesting young boys as his attorneys took their first set of appeals to the judge who oversaw the trial.
Defense attorneys hope to show Judge John Cleland that they did not have enough time to prepare for Sandusky’s trial, which resulted in a conviction on 45 of 48 counts and put the former Penn State defensive coordinator behind bars in a state prison in southwestern Pennsylvania for 30 to 60 years. The attorneys will present testimony and evidence to develop their claim.
Philadelphia-based Norris Gelman has been added to Sandusky’s defense team of Joe Amendola and Carlisle attorney Karl Rominger. Amendola said after the verdict in June that he may have to take the stand in the appeal process.
The attorneys want Cleland to overturn the verdict and grant Sandusky a new trial, saying the judge’s refusal to grant their motions for a continuance violated Sandusky’s due process rights.
“The court’s denial of the defendant’s motions for continuance prevented defendant’s counsel from having the needed time to prepare the defendant’s cases and interfered with defendant’s constitutional right to counsel,” according to one of the motions filed by the defense.
In addition, the defense attorneys have said they did not have enough time to review the voluminous amount of discovery materials they got from prosecutors in the run-up to the trial. The attorneys are also expected to say the judge made a mistake by letting a janitor testify for the prosecution about what he heard from a fellow janitor who saw Sandusky in a shower in 2000.
Here are some other issues the defense is expected to address:
• the state conducted secret background checks on the 600 potential jurors and that the court erred by not making the state turn over that information over to the defense;
• information on some charges wasn’t specific enough for the defense to adequately prepare for trial;
• the statute of limitations had expired on some charges because the offenses allegedly occurred before an expanded statute that took effect Aug. 27, 2002;
• the judge erred when it didn’t let the defense lawyers withdraw as Sandusky’s attorneys;
• the jury should have been sequestered and could have been exposed to news reports including allegations that Sandusky had sexually abused his adopted son; and
• Sandusky’s sentence is excessive.
Cleland can issue his decisions during the hearing or consider them and rule later.