Despite Defense Subpoena, Judge Rules Cynthia Baldwin Does Not Need to Testify at Hearing
The legal fate of Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Graham Spanier is once again being delayed. A pre-trial hearing today in Harrisburg ended after only 15 minutes — despite four days of scheduled hearings — as Judge Todd Hoover ruled that no testimony would be heard as the case winds its way through the legal system.
It’s a complicated case to begin with and today’s hearing was even more complicated for the non-legal mind, but I’ll do my best to explain it as I understand it. The case is currently going through a process where it is decided what the basis of facts are for the charges, which include perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstructing justice, conspiracy, and failure to report suspected child abuse. Of particular note — especially with the perjury charges — is former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin and her cooperation with prosecutors after the three former Penn State administrators testified before the Grand Jury. Baldwin maintains that she was only representing Penn State’s interests, although the men claim that they were under the impression that Baldwin was representing them in the Grand Jury room. The Grand Jury testimony is the basis of the charges against Curley, Schultz, and Spanier, and so the defense is trying to get the testimony thrown out because they allege Baldwin violated attorney-client privilege when she also testified before the Grand Jury.
“‘[Baldwin's role] is very important to the law and it’s very important to citizens,” Spanier’s attorney Elizabeth Ainslie said. “I’ve been a lawyer for 40 years and something like this has never happened in my experiences.”
Baldwin was subpoenaed to testify today, but Judge Hoover ruled that she didn’t need to testify for him to make a legal ruling on that part of the defense objections and squashed the subpoena. Indeed, both prosecutor Frank Fina, Grand Jury interviewer Jonelle Eshbach, and other expert witnesses were set to testify this week on legal issues related to the prosecution’s case. Ainslie said that Judge Hoover decided that he did not need to hear testimony to make decisions on the legal issues of the case.
Judge Hoover will instead review recently unsealed Grand Jury testimony from Baldwin and others, along with other documents and letters that are not yet public, to make a decision on how to proceed. Ainslie said that that she expects those documents to become public soon.
Baldwin’s attorney Charles DeMonaco was present and spoke briefly after the hearing, although he only took several questions from reporters but didn’t feel comfortable providing substantial answers.
“[Baldwin], at all times, fulfilled her duties and obligations to Penn State and its agents and administrators,” DeMonaco said.
After Judge Hoover reviews the records, it is expected that he will schedule a new hearing for oral arguments. Ainslie says she expects to be back in court in six to eight weeks.
“I do not think this will get to trial,” Ainslie said, adding that she expects to appeal if Hoover won’t allow Baldwin to testify. “There is so much not yet public that will help you understand.”
For now, at least — more than two years after the initial charges — a trial date is not in sight.