Penn State fights Paterno documents request, seeks to limit broad release of papers

lfalce@centredaily.comApril 28, 2014 

OldMainTower04

The Penn State's Lion Ambassadors held an open house at Old Main on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Students got the opportunity to learn some history of the building and climb the stairs to the bell tower.

ABBY DREY — CDT photo Buy Photo

Penn State filed a motion in Centre County court on Monday, asking that the family of the late Joe Paterno not be allowed to serve papers on the university’s law firm.

The filing is a response to a previous request by the Paternos to subpoena Pepper Hamilton LLP, the law firm that succeeded Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP as Penn State representatives, called in the documents “legal counsel at one of the most difficult periods in the (u)niversity’s history.”

According to court documents, the Paterno family’s request is based on the idea that all of the Freeh firm’s documents are relevant to the case and none should be considered privileged.

Penn State’s position is that there is “no blanket waiver of privilege,” that most of the documents are irrelevant and that each issue needs to be looked at independently.

The university asserts that the request includes millions of pages.

The filing asks that the court sustain the university’s objections to the request and bar the subpoena on grounds that the request is too broad.

The case stems from the 2011 revelations of child sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky, convicted in 2012 and currently incarcerated at the state prison in Greene County.

The Freeh report was commissioned by the university in the wake of the scandal.

The report was critical of many areas and individuals in the university and placed some blame at the feet of Paterno, the longtime football coach and the retired Sandusky’s one-time boss. He died in January 2012.

The original lawsuit, which includes the family — as well as trustees Anthony Lubrano, Ryan McCombie and Adam Taliaferro; former trustee Alvin Clemens; faculty members; employees; former coaches Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno; and former players, including Michael Robinson — was filed in 2013 and names the NCAA and its president, Mark Emmert, as well as Penn State.

A recent ruling had decided that Penn State needed to be added as a party to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs have included the university as a “nominal defendant.”

Lori Falce can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.

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