After much back and forth asking a judge for permission to call witnesses in Jerry Sandusky’s quest for a new trial, the judge now has a question for the defense.
Are you going to call me?
On Tuesday, McKean County Senior Judge John Cleland, who has been specially presiding over the Centre County case since Nov. 2011, issued an order, directing Sandusky’s attorneys to “either notify me of their intent to call me as a material witness ... or formally withdraw .. .any argument related thereto.”
The references are to a meeting that occurred at the Hilton Garden Inn in December 2011 between prosecutors and Sandusky’s then-attorney Joe Amendola.
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That meeting came up several times in evidentiary hearings in 2016 as Sandusky’s new attorneys, Al Lindsay and Andrew Salemme, pursue a Post-conviction Collateral Relief Act petition. Prosecutors Joseph McGettigan and Frank Fina were asked about the meeting, as was Amendola.
In May, Cleland denied a motion from the defense for his recusal in the case. Lindsay and Salemme argued that the “unusual” circumstances of the off-the-record meeting warranted a new judge and made Cleland a potential witness, creating a conflict of interest. Cleland maintained others could testify about what occurred at that meeting “thereby eliminating the need for any record testimony from me.”
A retired Penn State defensive coordinator, Sandusky was convicted of 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse crimes in June 2012 and is serving a 30-to-60 year sentence at Greene state prison in Waynesburg. He maintains his innocence.