“I hope you understand that, by God, this guy is going to get a fair trial,” said Judge John Cleland as he presided over Jerry Sandusky’s child sex crimes case.
But Sandusky attorney Alexander Lindsay suggests that the proceedings were anything but fair in his amended petition for post conviction relief, filed Wednesday.
The retired Penn State assistant football coach was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sex abuse charges. For some, the trial came too late, occurring years after Sandusky’s victims testified they were coerced and assaulted.
But Lindsay looks at a different timeline, the short distance from filing of charges to verdict.
“The end result of forcing Mr. Sandusky to trial only seven months after his arrest and 141 days after his arraignment, in an environment already polluted with inappropriate leaks from the grand jury presentment, resulted in a trial that failed to comport with the ideals of American jurisprudence,” Lindsay wrote.
The swift march from charge to trial was just one of the elements argued.
There was the well-publicized nature of the case, which pulled in news crews from across the country. Lindsay claimed the Sandusky’s ability to have a fair trial was “crushed under a stampede of vitriol, rage and prejudice that mandate a new trial.”
He also took issue with “misrepresentation” of former grad student and assistant coach Mike McQueary’s grand jury testimony, especially with its use by then-governor Tom Corbett.
He cited probably the most infamous aspect of the case, the horrible image of a young boy being sodomized in the showers, an incident he said Corbett invoked when speaking to trustees about what would become the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno.
The problem is that in McQueary’s grand jury testimony, he used the words “pretty sure ... relatively sure” and admitted he “did not see actual” sexual contact.
And then there was effectiveness of counsel.
Lindsay pointed to decisions by Sandusky’s trial lawyers, Joseph Amendola and Karl Rominger, like opposing the state’s motion to use an out-of-county jury.
The attorneys attempted to withdraw, saying they were “duty bound ethically to tell the court we’re not prepared to go to trial at this time.” The motion was denied.
Sandusky’s November 2011 interview with Bob Costas was also pointed out as a failing, with counsel leaving him unprepared.
“Indeed, Mr. Sandusky was advised that Mr. Costas was only going to speak to trial counsel,” Lindsay wrote.
Lindsay requested discovery and a hearing on the PCRA petition, citing 16 potential witnesses, including Amendola, Rominger, Corbett and former Centre Daily Times and Patriot-News reporter Sara Ganim.