The criminal charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy were dropped against former Penn State Administrators Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Graham Spanier on Friday. The perjury charges were also dropped against Schultz and Spanier.
The crux of the ruling came after Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Mary Bowes ruled that former Penn State attorney Cynthia Baldwin’s testimony was not admissible in court.
The controversy stems from the fact the charges the former administrators faced came from what they said during the Sandusky grand jury proceeding in 2011. All three thought they were being represented by Baldwin, but she later claimed she was there representing the university and not the individuals. During the private hearings Baldwin also testified which they argued violated attorney-client privilege.
Judge Todd Hoover refused to dismiss the criminal charges last January and allowed Baldwin’s grand jury testimony as evidence in the case, which the three men strongly opposed, calling it a violation of their rights to attorney-client privilege. Hoover later agreed in March to temporarily put the case on hold while the defendants appealed the decision to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Judge Bowes of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ordered that sealed notes of testimony from the claim of attorney-client privilege be unsealed.
Here are the dockets for Curley, Schultz, and Spanier. All three still face charges for failure to report suspected abuse and endangering the welfare of children, which are second and first degree misdemeanors.
While the order was reversed and the jurisdiction relinquished, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court can appeal.
Correction: Curley still faces one count of perjury.
Update (2:00 p.m.): Here is more on the ruling from Judge Baldwin, who made the decision with a panel of two other judges.
“We hold that Ms. Baldwin was incompetent to testify as to Curley’s communications with her,” the panel wrote in a ruling related to Curley specifically, though similar wording was offered in all three opinions. “We find that, even assuming Ms. Baldwin represented Curley in an agency capacity, his communications to her regarding being subpoenaed to testify before the criminal investigating grand jury were privileged.”
But the panel went on to say there’s no reason to assume Baldwin represented Curley as an agent of Penn State — and even if she did, the university would still need to waive its own attorney-client privilege for the testimony to be fair game in these criminal matters involving the former administrators. Penn State has not waived its privilege.
“Certain communications between a corporate attorney and an employee of the corporation still may be personally privileged,” the judges ruled. “Moreover, the corporation must still waive its own privilege in order for communications between its agents and counsel to be disclosed.”