The judge in the Jerry Sandusky criminal case instituted a gag order Monday, a few days after attorneys in the case took verbal jabs at each other outside the Centre County courthouse, in front of dozens of news media representatives.
McKean County Senior Judge John M. Cleland entered the order early Monday, and he said it will apply to all attorneys in the case -- both prosecution and defense -- as well as any investigators who currently or have in the past worked on the case.
The order follows Thursday's brief pretrial hearing, which was followed outside the courthouse by lengthy comments by both defense attorney Joseph Amendola and Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan.
Mr. Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State University, faces a June 5 trial on charges he sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year period, including several assaults that took place at campus facilities. He is confined to his State College home on electronic monitoring.
Mr. Amendola has filed a number of motions on Mr. Sandusky's behalf, including one to dismiss the charges, based on a lack of specificity of the details of the alleged crimes.
Mr. McGettigan fired back at the defense Thursday, saying the motions have been disingenuous in that Mr. Sandusky could have received more specific information in the case had he not waived his preliminary hearing.
The prosecutor also called Mr. Sandusky's charity, The Second Mile, a "victim factory."
Although Judge Cleland did not acknowledge any of the specific comments made in his order, he did say it was being issued to allow for "conducting a fair, impartial and orderly trial."
Specifically, the judge has forbidden any statement to be disseminated by direct attribution or on background, which relates to any opinion of Mr. Sandusky's guilt or innocence, any evidence regarding specific occurrences in the case, as well as the reputation, character, credibility or criminal record of the defendant, any witness or organization, that may testify or be the subject of testimony at trial. Also forbidden are any opinions regrading the legal or factual merits of positions advanced by either side.
Gag orders are not unusual, especially in high-profile cases, said University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff. He guessed that it was issued now because of the comments made after the hearing.
"The attorneys acted pretty much like kids scuffling in the playground at recess. The judge has now told them in no uncertain terms that recess is over and they have to behave."
Paula Reed Ward: 412-263-2620 or email@example.com. First Published April 10, 2012 12:00 AM