Monday, February 13, 2012

A fair trial with Centre County jurors? Of course

The Attorney General's office seems to have a misguided and incorrect understanding of the residents of Centre County. In the motion requesting that an out-of-county jury be brought in for the Sandusky trial, the AG states:

"The citizens of Centre County feel a laudable and proper sense of ownership of, and participation in, the fortunes of Penn State. To ask members of that community to breakdown that alloy and insulate themselves from the institution which informs so many aspects of their lives is asking too much. It is unfair and impracticable."

I'm not sure how the AG came to this idea, but the implication is that since this is Penn State-related, a Centre County jury would find it difficult to keep their Penn State loyalties separate from their feelings towards Sandusky. I guess this could go either way--a jury might be prejudiced toward a guilty plea because of what this has already done to the University or they might feel loyalty toward Sandusky because of his football years.

I think either of these scenarios is unlikely. There is very little, if any, positive feelings toward Sandusky around town. Most people I talk to believe that he is guilty on at least some of the charges and blame him for the negative media attention to our town and for the firing of Joe Paterno.

On the other hand, I think residents of Centre County would like Jerry Sandusky to be innocent. Not just found "not guilty" but to actually be innocent. There has been so much negative publicity devoted to painting the community as a football-obsessed group of child abuse-enablers, we'd like nothing more than to find out it was all fabricated, much like the Duke lacrosse scandal.

Sadly, though, I don't expect that to be the case.

The judge's ruling on whether or not to grant the change of venire should be coming in the next few days, if not hours. I hope the judge decides to have a local jury...the alleged crimes were committed here, it's only fair that a local jury should hear the case.

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