Former Penn State lawyer Cynthia Baldwin was clear about her role when she accompanied then-university president Graham Spanier for his testimony in front of the grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky.
Baldwin was there to only to represent Penn State, she told a judge beforehand.
But Spanier didn’t hear that.
Baldwin’s words were spoken behind closed doors during a quick discussion with the judge and prosecuting attorneys before Spanier took the stand April 13, 2011. When Spanier was sworn in minutes later, he said Baldwin was his lawyer.
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The dispute over Baldwin’s representation is at the center of the fight Spanier’s lawyer is waging to clear the name of longtime university president who’s been charged with lying to that grand jury and covering up abuse allegations against Sandusky. Spanier’s lawyer wants the charges dropped and his and Baldwin’s grand jury testimony thrown out.
The Dauphin County judge presiding over the case will consider these conversations as he decides whether to drop the counts because of the questions over Baldwin’s representation. The transcript of the proceeding in which Baldwin made her assertion was unsealed from grand jury protection and obtained by the Centre Daily Times.
Spanier was in court Tuesday for a hearing that was supposed to address the Baldwin issues. The judge refused to have Baldwin testify and said he would consider the documentation that already exists pertaining to Spanier and co-defendants Gary Schultz and Tim Curley.
Spanier’s assertion is at the start of his grand jury testimony, and a transcript of that was released this summer during a preliminary hearing.
Here’s how the two conversations went down:
Baldwin was speaking with Barry Feudale, the judge supervising the grand jury, in his chambers the morning of April 13, 2011, before Spanier took the stand.
The issue at hand was not her representation, but rather difficulties in collecting university information, such as emails, for a subpoena. Baldwin said the time frame in question was too broad and that she wanted to make a motion to throw out the subpoena.
Baldwin stepped out of the room so prosecutor Frank Fina could give the judge some background he thought was necessary to understand the issue over the subpoena.
When Baldwin returned, Fina and prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach resolved with her the subpoena issue. The judge was satisfied, too, and he asked her one question:
“Cindy, just for the record, who do you represent?”
“The university,” she responded.
The judge asked for clarification: “The university solely?”
“Yes, I represent the university solely,” she said.
Minutes later, Feudale swore Spanier in to the grand jury and advised him of his rights, such as having a lawyer there to consult and the ability to refuse to answer a question that could incriminate him.
Spanier’s testimony began thereafter, and the second question posed by Fina was whether he had counsel with him.
Spanier answered with a yes, and Fina asked him to identify his lawyer.
“Cynthia Baldwin sitting behind me,” Spanier said.
After the hearing Tuesday in Harrisburg, Spanier’s lawyer told reporters that she thought the prosecution should have recognized the representation issue.
Spanier was indicted in November 2012 just days after Baldwin herself had taken the stand in front of the grand jury.
Baldwin testified that she had kept Spanier informed of legal developments about the Sandusky investigation.
But, Baldwin testified, she later felt deceived by Spanier, who had given media interviews in which, she said, he lied about his knowledge.