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Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky pursue yet another criminal appeal

The sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky consumed the media here in Pennsylvania and around the country. When he was finally convicted and civil lawsuits were settled, many hoped that Sandusky would live out his days in prison and finally accept some responsibility for the crimes he has committed. Unfortunately, Mr. Sandusky appears to have no such plans.

Sandusky has already lost an appeal in Superior Court. And a year ago this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal. Today, however, news sources reported that Sandusky's attorney will be filing another appeal under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA).

Many have said that arguments made in Sandusky's previous appeals were weak. They alleged that Sandusky had not received a fair trial because of one comment made by the prosecuting attorney and a minor jury instruction that was omitted by the judge overseeing the case.

Under the PCRA, convicted offenders can appeal based on any of three claims about the constitutionality and legality of their trials. They may claim that their constitutional rights were violated, that their legal counsel was ineffective or that new evidence has surfaced that was not introduced at the original trial.

Sandusky's attorney seems to be claiming new evidence. Specifically, he plans to include sealed transcripts of testimony made before the grand jury that indicted Sandusky. Because these documents are supposed to remain forever secret, it is unclear what Sandusky's attorney plans to introduce.

In light of the overwhelming evidence against Sandusky and the unsuccessful appeals to date, it seems reasonable to assume that this is another desperate attempt that will ultimately fail. Nonetheless, Sandusky's insistence on fighting his conviction may be re-traumatizing his victims, who would like to see his conviction fully and finally secured.

Source: The Morning Call, "Sandusky will use secret testimony in new appeal," Peter Hall, April 1, 2015

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