Jerry Sandusky files appeal containing numerous allegations of ineffective counsel

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WILLIAMSPORT — Jerry Sandusky is trying again to get his conviction overturned and a new trial.

Sandusky, 78, who is serving a 30 to 60-year sentence, filed a habeas corpus petition in the United States Intermediate District Court on Saturday, alleging numerous cases of ineffective counsel.

Sandusky, whose previous appeals from his 2012 conviction on 45 child molestation charges were dismissed, has firmly maintained his innocence.

A Center County jury has found that Sandusky, Penn State’s longtime assistant football coach, sexually abused 10 boys at his youth charity, the Second Mile, between 1994 and 2008.

The state’s Superior Court in 2019 upheld the conviction but ordered that Sandusky be re-sentenced without imposing mandatory minimum sentences. His new sentence was the same as the old one.

Williamsport attorney EJ Rymsza in the new appeal cites what he claims are errors made by Sandusky trial attorneys Joseph Amendola and Karl Rominger.

They understand:

  • Provide a prejudicial opening statement in which Amendola made a broken promise that Sandusky would testify and effectively admitted that the weight of evidence supported his client’s guilt.
  • Failing to object to the judge in his final instructions not telling the jury that Sandusky had no obligation to testify and no adverse inference could be drawn from his silence.
  • Recommend and arrange the national television interview with Bob Costas that Sandusky was unprepared for. The prosecution used his comments against him at trial.
  • Failing to properly object and seek remedial action for the prosecutor’s closing argument in which he noted that Sandusky did not testify but was willing to be questioned by Costas.
  • Not to have opposed the constitution of two jurors who, questioned, showed themselves predisposed to convict.
  • Obtaining from a psychologist’s testimony, he had diagnosed Sandusky with histrionic personality disorder “which opened the door to prejudicial rebuttal testimony.
  • Advising Sandusky not to testify after jurors were told he would. Sandusky chose not to testify out of concern if he did the prosecution would call his adopted son Matthew as a rebuttal witness.
  • Do not file a motion to move the trial out of Center County or import a jury.
  • Arguing outside of Sandusky’s presence to step down as attorney, then failing to file an appeal when the claim was denied.

Amendola on June 5, 2012, the morning of jury selection, informed the chambers judge that he was filing a motion to allow him and Rominger to step down as attorneys.

His reasons included lack of preparation, absence of jury experts and consultants, potential availability of key witnesses, and staff always copying confidential grand jury documents.

“That aside, I think we have an ethical duty to tell the Court that we are not ready to go to trial at this time,” the trial transcript reads.

Rymsza claims the judge violated Sandusky’s due process rights by denying a requested extension that resulted in the defense being ill-prepared for trial.

The failure to grant the extension also violated Sandusky’s right to be represented by effective counsel, he claims.

The Sandusky scandal resulted in the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier.

Spanier was convicted of a misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child and spent two months in prison.

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