Sandusky petitions Pennsylvania's highest court to hear appeal of child sex abuse conviction
HARRISBURG — Jerry Sandusky wants Pennsylvania's highest court to take up his appeal of a 45-count child sex abuse conviction, saying in a petition released Friday that the trial judge should have instructed jurors on the length of time it took victims to come forward.
The new filing repeated other arguments that were rejected a month ago by the midlevel Superior Court, including a claim that Sandusky's lawyers lacked sufficient time to prepare and that a prosecutor improperly referred to Sandusky's decision not to testify.
“This is a notorious case,” wrote his lawyers, Norris Gelman and Margeaux Cigainero. “It is a case that tests the limits of our ability to live up to the promise our Constitution makes that even in the worst of cases, a fair trial will be afforded.”
Gelman said Friday that it typically takes the Supreme Court two to seven months to decide whether it will grant a petition for allowance of appeal. If it does, the justices will establish a briefing schedule.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office, which prosecuted Sandusky, declined to comment.
The 59-page petition argues that Judge John Cleland's decision not to issue the “failure to make a prompt report” jury instruction was catastrophic to the defense strategy.
“It cut the heart out of (Sandusky)'s main defense,” they wrote. “Just as the court could not deny (him) the right to forward such as defense, it had no right to dilute it so seriously by refusing the instructions.”