For Sandusky case, local faces in mix
Several of Pittsburgh's most high-profile legal names spent the day a couple hundred miles away from town Monday involved in various aspects of the allegations against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Pittsburgh defense attorney Caroline Roberto is representing Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, and local attorney Tom Farrell is representing Gary Schultz, Penn State's senior vice president for finance and business. Both men are charged with perjury and failing to report an alleged sexual assault and both stepped down from their positions on Sunday.
Longtime Pittsburgh attorney Linda Kelly is the state attorney general prosecuting the case, and former Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Baldwin is Penn State's general counsel.
Ms. Roberto has defended notable Pittsburgh figures such as Christina Korbe, who shot and killed FBI Special Agent Samuel Hicks in 2008; Richard Baumhammers, who killed six people during a 2000 shooting spree, and the male juvenile suspect accused of raping four girls at Upper St. Clair High School.
"She's so thorough that it's ridiculous," said Patrick Thomassey, a defense attorney who has tried cases with Ms. Roberto. "She has a lot of appeal to a jury -- she's petite, attractive, witty, smart."
Ms. Roberto is a sole practitioner at her law firm, the Law Office of Caroline M. Roberto.
She received her undergraduate degree from Duquesne University in 1975 and her law degree from the University of Memphis in 1981. Ms. Roberto co-founded the Women's Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania and is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
Bruce Teitelbaum, retired assistant U.S. attorney, remembers meeting Ms. Roberto while trying a La Cosa Nostra organized crime case in the 1990s. Many of the other defendants had older, better known lawyers, he said, but Ms. Roberto stood out for the "spectacular" job that she did on behalf of her client.
"Her biggest attribute, besides just being a very skilled lawyer, is her degree of concern and the amount of vigor she puts in for each client as an individual," he said. "She is definitely one of the most premier defense attorneys in the Pittsburgh area."
Mr. Farrell is known for his work on both sides of the bar in Pittsburgh, first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and then as a criminal defense attorney.
In his criminal defense practice, Mr. Farrell has represented sports figures such as former New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, as part of the steroids investigation of pitcher Roger Clemens, and white-collar defendants such as former Le-Nature's President Robert Lynn in the corporate fraud case.
As a prosecutor, he is best known for putting former state Rep. Frank Gigliotti in prison for extorting bribes.
A New York City native, Mr. Farrell graduated from Yale with a degree in philosophy in 1983 and from New York University law school in 1986. Early is his career, he worked for the federal public defender's office in New York City.
He serves on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union and helps with the representation of clients in civil liberties cases, such as a man who received part of a $50,000 settlement from the City of Pittsburgh after he was cited in 2006 for giving the middle finger to a police officer.
"He's a really good mix of aggressive when he needs to be aggressive and careful when he needs to be careful," said Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney for Western Pennsylvania. "He's a go-to defense lawyer -- maybe the go-to defense lawyer in Pittsburgh."
A career prosecutor, Ms. Kelly was named state attorney general in February to finish out Tom Corbett's term after he was elected governor.
Ms. Kelly spent more than 30 years prosecuting cases in Allegheny County, both in the county district attorney's office and as an assistant U.S. attorney. She also served two stints as interim U.S. attorney.
"She's a consummate career professional," Mr. Litman said. "She's prudent, fair-minded, a straight shooter of unquestioned integrity."
Ms. Kelly has pledged not to run for attorney general when her term expires.
Ms. Kelly spent years prosecuting sexual assault cases while in the county district attorney's office, Mr. Teitelbaum said. At the federal level, she prosecuted cases involving organized crime, explosives and narcotics. In recent years, she took more of a supervisory role, overseeing efforts to prevent terrorism.
Ms. Kelly graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and received her law degree from Duquesne. She is the first female state attorney general since 1961.
"She's known for her lack of self-interest or promotion," Mr. Teitelbaum said. "She got the key jobs because of her reputation for really sound judgment."
Ms. Baldwin was named general counsel for Penn State in 2010 after a distinguished career as a judge and in private practice.
She served on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from 2006 to 2008 following 17 years on the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. She was the first female African-American judge on the Court of Common Pleas.
A 1966 alumnus of Penn State and a past member and chair of the university's board of trustees, Ms. Baldwin retired from the bench in 2008 to join Duane Morris, a Philadelphia-based law firm.
Penn State said that it decided to hire Ms. Baldwin after an external peer review recommended creating an in-house legal counsel. Ms. Baldwin is also a university vice president.
Prior to becoming a judge, Ms. Baldwin was an adjunct professor at Duquesne's law school, where she received her degree, and worked in the state attorney general's office.
Ms. Baldwin has received scores of awards and honors and serves on numerous corporate and non-profit boards.
Although Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz stepped down Sunday from their positions at the university, Penn State will pay their attorney fees because their actions in question occurred while they were university employees.
First Published November 8, 2011 12:00 am