Continued Fallout from the Jerry Sandusky Saga – This Time, It’s the Lawyers in Trouble Thumbnail

Continued Fallout from the Jerry Sandusky Saga – This Time, It’s the Lawyers in Trouble

It’s been almost 12 years since the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office first began investigating what became a lurid string of sexual molestation charges and the eventual criminal conviction of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. It seems like parts of this sad story will never end. On February 19, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finished the latest chapter, this one relating to disciplinary actions taken against two attorneys involved in the criminal process. Cynthia Baldwin, a former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who was General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer for Penn State during the investigation, was ordered to be publicly censured for her role in the grand jury proceedings that led to the indictment of various Penn State officials for their alleged participation in covering up the Sandusky scandal. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a lengthy opinion in which it concluded that Baldwin failed to clearly establish the boundaries of her representing the university as opposed to the individual officers, which created conflicts of interest and the improper disclosure of information that should have been protected by attorney-client privilege. Her conduct in turn resulted in the quashing of many of the charges of wrongful conduct originally brought against those university officials.  In addition, the Court suspended Frank Fina, one of the lead prosecutors in the case, for one year. Fina had elicited testimony from Baldwin in the grand jury proceedings despite knowing that there were multiple attorney-client privilege issues attendant to that testimony and failing to advise the supervising judge of those issues.

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