The lead prosecutor on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case will be suspended from the practice of law, and an attorney for Penn State publicly sanctioned, for violating the attorney-client privilege during the proceedings, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
Frank Fina, a former state deputy attorney general, will have his license pulled for one year and one day, while Cynthia A. Baldwin, who represented Penn State and three of its administrators during grand jury proceedings, will be reprimanded.
The actions stem from the prosecutor’s subpoena of Baldwin to appear before the grand jury and Fina’s questioning of her, which caused her to violate the right to client confidentiality she owed the administrators.
During her grand jury testimony, Baldwin testified that the three administrators—Gary Schultz, Penn State’s former president, Timothy Curley, its former athletic director, and Graham Spanier, the college’s former senior vice president for finance and business—lied to her about the existence of documents showing their knowledge of incidents involving Sandusky and children.
Baldwin declined to invoke the attorney-client privilege, insisting that as counsel for Penn State, she acted solely in a corporate capacity with them before the grand jury and not in any individual capacity.
The state AG’s office later entered into plea bargains with Curley and Schultz, who pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children. Spanier’s case proceeded to trial, resulting in a guilty verdict on one count of endangering the welfare of children.
Judge Christine Donohue wrote the Baldwin opinion, joined by Judges Kevin M. Dougherty, David N. Wecht and Updyke Mundy.
Judge Wecht filed a statement concurring in the per curiam Fina order, joined by Judge Donohue. Judge Dougherty filed a concurring and dissenting statement in the Fina case, while Judge Saylor didn’t participate in the consideration or decision of the case.
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