Supreme Court to weigh dis­ci­pline against Penn State’s ex-coun­sel in San­dusky case

The Morning Call - - STATE/REGION -

PHILADEL­PHIA – Penn­syl­va­nia’s Supreme Court con­sid­ered ar­gu­ments in Philadel­phia on Tues­day over whether the chief lawyer for Penn State when the Jerry San­dusky scan­dal broke should face public cen­sure.

The state’s lawyer dis­ci­plinary board rec­om­mended that pun­ish­ment in March for Cyn­thia Bald­win, who is a for­mer state Supreme Court jus­tice. The board did not rec­om­mend that her li­cense be sus­pended or taken.

The Le­gal In­tel­li­gencer said only four of the court’s seven jus­tices par­tic­i­pated in the ar­gu­ment, and there was no in­di­ca­tion when they might rule.

The board has lev­eled sev­eral claims against Bald­win re­gard­ing her con­duct as in­ves­ti­ga­tors ramped up their probe of San­dusky. San­dusky, Penn State’s for­mer de­fen­sive foot­ball coach, is serv­ing a state prison sen­tence on a 45-count child sex­ual abuse con­vic­tion in 2012.

The board said Bald­win had a con­flict of in­ter­est be­cause she rep­re­sented both the univer­sity and three of its top ad­min­is­tra­tors dur­ing a grand jury in­ves­ti­ga­tion into San­dusky’s con­duct.

In an Au­gust fil­ing, Sa­muel Napoli, an Of­fice of Dis­ci­plinary Coun­sel lawyer ar­gu­ing the case against Bald­win, said she had “be­trayed her clients” by tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore a grand jury about their com­mu­ni­ca­tions. She’s also ac­cused of hav­ing en­gaged in con­duct prej­u­di­cial to the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, ac­cord­ing to Napoli, be­cause her al­legedly im­proper tes­ti­mony to the grand jury led to the dis­missal of some of the crim­i­nal charges faced by for­mer Penn State Pres­i­dent Gra­ham Spanier, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Gary Schultz and for­mer Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Tim Cur­ley.

A board hear­ing panel that con­sid­ered the case be­fore the full board took it up had rec­om­mended the case against Bald­win be dis­missed. The lawyer dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings are ad­min­is­tra­tive, not crim­i­nal, and the board in­di­cated it felt a li­cense sus­pen­sion was not war­ranted.

Bald­win’s lawyer, Charles DeMonaco, said in a brief last month that the jus­tices should side with the hear­ing com­mit­tee, not the full board, and con­clude she did not vi­o­late the rules of pro­fes­sional con­duct for lawyers.

“It is nearly im­pos­si­ble to gauge what is in the best in­ter­est of a client or to pro­vide sound le­gal ad­vice when the client lies about his or her sit­u­a­tion and the un­der­ly­ing facts,” DeMonaco said.

Bald­win ac­com­pa­nied Cur­ley, Schultz and Spanier to grand jury ap­pear­ances in 2011, be­fore San­dusky was charged with child mo­lesta­tion.

Schultz and Cur­ley pleaded guilty to mis­de­meanor child en­dan­ger­ment on the eve of trial in 2017 for their re­sponse to a 2001 com­plaint about San­dusky show­er­ing with a boy and served brief jail terms. Spanier was con­victed of child en­dan­ger­ment, but that charge was re­cently thrown out by a fed­eral judge, a de­ci­sion un­der ap­peal by state prose­cu­tors.

The Le­gal In­tel­li­gencer said jus­tices Sal­lie Mundy, Kevin Dougherty, Chris­tine Dono­hue and David Wecht heard ar­gu­ment Tues­day, and that jus­tices Max Baer, Thomas Say­lor and De­bra Todd did not par­tic­i­pate.


In this Feb. 14, 2006 file photo, then Al­legheny County Judge Cyn­thia Bald­win ap­pears be­fore the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee in Har­ris­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia.

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