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Prosecutors argue against Jerry Sandusky appeal

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MARK SCOLFORO | November 14, 2013 03:22 PM EST | AP


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania prosecutors said in a new court filing that Jerry Sandusky has not presented any good reason for the state Supreme Court to take up an appeal of his molestation conviction.

The former Penn State assistant football coach has not put forward sufficient grounds for the justices to consider the appeal, according to the brief by the Pennsylvania attorney general's office posted by state court officials on Thursday.

"Sandusky nowhere argues that there are special and important reasons for allowance of appeal, much less identify such reasons or explain their importance," prosecutors wrote. "Rather, he simply argues the merits of each of the issues that he raised before the Superior Court without explaining why this court should address those issues."

In asking the high court to take his case two weeks ago, Sandusky argued his lawyers were rushed to trial and prosecutors improperly referred to his decision not to testify.

He also said the trial judge should have issued a jury instruction regarding the delay in reporting by his victims and that the judge erred by telling jurors to weigh evidence of his good character against all other evidence in the case.

"In terms of, 'Are there important reasons for the court to exercise its discretion to grant us a full appeal?,' I say yes, sure there are," Sandusky's defense attorney, Norris Gelman, said Thursday.

He disputed the prosecutors' latest filing and said that the reasons the Supreme Court should take the case were laid out in the lengthy document he submitted in asking for it.

Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted last year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. In October, a three-judge panel of the state Superior Court — an intermediate appeals court between the trial court and the Supreme Court — turned down his request for a new trial.

The new prosecution filing said jurors were aware that Sandusky's defense was that his victims should not be believed because, according to the defense, they were motivated by money. Penn State recently announced nearly $60 million in settlements with 26 people who say they were abused by Sandusky, including many of the eight young men who testified against him.

"The court's instruction directed the jury to consider all of the relevant factors put forth by the defense," the AG's office wrote. "There was no new novel application of the law."

Prosecutors said decisions by the trial judge, John Cleland, not to delay the case were not the type of arbitrary decision that would violate Sandusky's rights.

Prosecutors argued in the filing that any error would have been harmless since Sandusky's attorney testified during a post-sentence hearing that his case would not have changed if he had more time to prepare.

Sandusky's request to the high court also cited prosecutor Joe McGettigan's reference in his closing argument to the interview Sandusky gave to NBC's Bob Costas shortly after his 2011 arrest. McGettigan told jurors that he has been told he's "almost as good a questioner as Bob Costas" and that he "only heard (Sandusky) on TV."

The prosecutors wrote that Sandusky's lawyers did not seek a mistrial based on the references to his public statements on the case, so McGettigan's reference cannot be reviewed on appeal.

Gelman has said it normally takes months for the Supreme Court to consider a petition for allowance of appeal. If the high court grants it, they would then establish a briefing schedule.