Criminal Practice

Question Over Baldwin Testimony Persists in Wake of Ruling

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Cynthia Baldwin
Cynthia Baldwin

Despite a ruling denying motions to preclude Cynthia Baldwin, the former Penn State general counsel, from testifying against three ex-university administrators in a criminal case stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, the question of whether she will ever take the stand is still very much up in the air.

On Jan. 17, Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Todd A. Hoover, who is presiding over the cases against former university President Graham Spanier, ex-vice president of business and finance Gary Schultz and ex-athletic director Tim Curley, each of whom is accused of conspiring to cover up incidents of child sexual abuse by Sandusky, blocked for now their effort to preclude Baldwin from testifying because of attorney-client privilege.

However, Hoover denied the motions without prejudice as premature, and issued an additional order giving the defendants 30 days to identify more pleadings and propose more arguments and findings of fact to support their motions to quash the criminal complaints.

Several attorneys who spoke with the Law Weekly said the judge's actions indicate he is slowing down the proceedings to take a closer look at whether or not an attorney-client relationship existed between Baldwin and the defendants, and also whether that privilege was violated, before he makes any ruling on whether to preclude Baldwin's testimony.

"What he's saying is, 'I don't have a factual record in front of me that lays out that there is a privileged relationship, so show me,'" said white-collar criminal defense attorney Ellen C. Brotman, of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads.

Spanier, Schultz and Curley were accompanied to grand jury proceedings in 2011 by Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, who was then Penn State's top legal official. The grand jury proceedings were part of the investigation into Sandusky's activities.

Baldwin, however, later testified during 2012 grand jury proceedings that led to the charges against the three defendants.

The three former administrators were charged with endangering the welfare of a child, failure to report, conspiracy to commit EWOC, perjury and obstruction of justice. The charges stem from incidents of abuse perpetrated in 1998 and 2001 by Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, that were allegedly reported to the administrators.

The defendants are arguing that their legal rights were so badly trampled during grand jury proceedings that the charges should be tossed.

The latest ruling means that the judge is taking these defense arguments seriously, attorneys said.

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