Jerry Sandusky prosecutor and ex-Penn State general counsel are disciplined for actions in the case
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended a prosecutor in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse case and reprimanded the former general counsel of Pennsylvania State University, where Sandusky had worked as an assistant football coach.
The state supreme court suspended former prosecutor Frank Fina for a year and a day and reprimanded university general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, report PennLive.com, Bloomberg Law and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The court said Baldwin represented three university officials without properly investigating potential conflicts and impermissibly revealed client confidences in her own grand jury testimony. Law.com had coverage.
The court noted that Baldwin previously had an unblemished record during 20 years of law practice. She was on the state supreme court from 2006 to 2008.
Fina’s suspension stemmed from his questioning of Baldwin before the grand jury, according to a concurrence by Justice David Wecht. Ethics rules in the state bar prosecutors from subpoenaing a lawyer to appear before a grand jury without judicial approval. The concurrence said Fina violated that rule, even though a different lawyer’s name was listed on the subpoena for Baldwin’s testimony.
“Fina’s conduct denied a neutral judge the opportunity to perform this vital check on prosecutorial power,” Wecht wrote. “Fina specifically told the supervising judge that he would not question Baldwin in any way that would invade attorney-client privilege.”
Fina’s questioning was contrary to that assertion, according to findings by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s disciplinary board.
After Baldwin’s testimony, the grand jury recommended charges against one of the university officials and recommended additional charges against the two others. The charges included perjury and obstruction of justice, according to PennLive.com. Those charges were later dismissed, although child endangerment charges remained.
Two of the officials pleaded guilty to that charge and a third was convicted, although the conviction was overturned on appeal, according to PennLive.com.
The officials had been accused of failing to properly respond to allegations against Sandusky.
Lawyers for Fina told PennLive.com that they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers for Baldwin told Law.com that they were disappointed in the decision, particularly because a judge and hearing committee had previously found no breach of ethics rules.
ABAJournal.com: “Two ex-Penn State officials plead guilty in relation to Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal”