This is the third and final segment on our series concerning the arrest of Jerry Sandusky for child sex abuse charges. Specifically, this series was intended to address the rapid conclusion so many have drawn about whether or not he is guilty.
As a criminal defense attorney, my role is not to judge guilt or innocence. But as a criminal justice attorney, I am interested in understanding why and how people make the decisions they do when reading about criminal conduct in the media.
In this final segment, I will discuss how criminal defense lawyers can best represent Jerry Sandusky in the ensuing legal battle that he must engage in. Guilty, innocent, or otherwise, Jerry Sandusky has the right to counsel and he has no choice but to invest all he can in his freedom.
This section will address those issues.
For good reason, criminal cases are not litigated in the media or in the public eye. Rather, they are litigated in courtrooms where allegations must be proven using verified evidence (such as forensic evidence and eye witness testimony) and not hearsay, speculation, or other evidence that either waivers or vacillates in its meaning.
Jerry Sandusky needs to hire the best legal team possible. At this stage, he needs to invest everything he has in keeping himself out of prison.
Preserving his wealth or his retirement is not an option at this point. If his case is not handled correctly, he will have no chance at a free life.
Jerry Sandusky is no spring chicken and he is presently in danger of dying in prison. Clearly, this is not an option.
Once he has assembled a legal team, the investigative process must begin.
Sandusky’s criminal defense team must conduct an extremely thorough investigation into every claim, every victim, every victim’s family, every witness, and any other person, entity, or place that has any connection to this matter whatsoever.
No rock can be left unturned, no wrinkle folded.
In reality, the truth lies in the details. Not in mere speculation acquired after watching a 30 second clip on the evening news.
Sandusky’s criminal defense team needs to treat this case clinically, just like a doctor would. They cannot come in with a loser’s attitude. Whether he is guilty, innocent, or somewhere in between should not affect the level of lawyering that the defense team brings to the table.
There is no substitution for preparation. There is no substitution for attention to detail.
Once the case has been thoroughly investigated, Sandusky and his criminal defense lawyers must sit down and make a realistic assessment of their chances of winning at trial.
This process can only be had once the defense team’s investigation is complete.
Such decisions cannot be made blindly.
As much as prosecutors sometimes expect a criminal defendant to just jump up and admit he/she is guilty in order to get leniency, that is not the way of the U.S. Constitution.
Rather, our Constitution says every single human being stepping foot on American soil has the inalienable right to legal counsel when accused of a crime.
It is an ethic that is woven into the fabric of our society.
The role of defense counsel in this regard, is first to act as a check and balance on government.
First, did the prosecution properly charge Sandusky or is he overcharged with more criminal counts than is supported by the evidence? In other words, his criminal defense attorneys need to cut this case down to size so it is only as big or small as is supported by the evidence.
Second, if the decision to proceed to trial is made, then trial preparations must commence. Preparing for trial is very intense and takes a lot of time. It amounts to specialized war preparations and honing of one’s arsenal for the anticipated fight.
The details of preparing for Sandusky’s trial cannot be discussed now because too little information is known about the details of his case.
Third, if the decision to plead is made (meaning not to go to trial), then a case based on mitigation must be made. This process actually starts at the initial investigation phase when the defense team puts together a complete portfolio on Sandusky as well as the victims and the actual acts of criminal conduct that may or may not have transpired.
In a nutshell, a case for mitigation calls for minimizing the level and quantity of charges prosecuted and from there, the extent of sentencing. In all likelihood, Pennsylvania has a criminal punishment code that is similar to criminal sentencing in Florida.
In Sandusky’s case there is no doubt in my mind that a plea will likely involve prison. However, someone in his position may need to accept a small loss to avoid a huge one.
Its kind of like a 4th down kick instead of a Hail-Mary that will likely result in an interception and many more yards gained by the other side.
In any event, this case is a very serious one that should not be taken lightly. Criminal defense lawyers working for Jerry Sandusky need to appreciate why the public thinks he is guilty and how a potential jury will receive his defenses, if any.
Taking the full picture into consideration, defense lawyers will need to devise and implement a comprehensive defense strategy to ensure that Jerry Sandusky is given the best representation possible.
Insofar as the alleged victims are concerned, assuming these allegations are true, I sincerely hope that they get treatment and find solace for what they have been through. I cannot even begin to imagine the trauma that they have possibly endured.