Louis Freeh is asking for the rejection of former Penn State president Graham Spanier’s latest legal motion.
Freeh, the former FBI director who authored the Freeh report criticizing Penn State’s handling of Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse crimes, contends Spanier’s request for “summary affirmance” needs to be denied because Freeh’s appeal “presents a substantial issue.”
In a filing Monday, Freeh and his law firm, Freeh, Sporkin and Sullivan LLP, stated opposition to Spanier’s motion, filed Oct. 10, asking that it be denied on the grounds of the importance of the questions presented by the appeal.
This is the latest step in a legal dance between the two parties spanning two federal courts. Spanier sued Freeh for defamation in Centre County Court, a case that was moved to federal jurisdiction, a move Spanier protested.
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Freeh is appealing that protest.
Spanier’s “summary affirmance” motion means that his attorneys asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to look at the decision of Judge Malachy Mannion from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and uphold it as appropriate.
Mannion dismissed Freeh’s request to have a one-year period to move the case from Centre County Court to a federal venue as moot, saying the case was already in federal court. But according to Freeh’s documents, that isn’t good enough.
At the center of the issue is a peculiar twist of law where Pennsylvania and federal courts meet. If a case is filed in a Pennsylvania court, and one of the parties thinks it should be heard by a federal judge, there is a one-year period to ask that it be moved.
But when does that clock start? Some courts say it’s when the complaint is submitted, but others have said it begins at the writ of summons.
Freeh and his attorneys say their motion was appropriate to ensure that their request was made within that one-year period, while Spanier’s camp says it was premature. Mannion decided it didn’t matter because the case was no longer being heard in Centre County.
That’s a decision Freeh’s filing called “nearsighted,” saying the court ignored the possibility of the case returning to Centre County as Spanier’s side has requested.