Tuesday, September 8, 2020
A Montgomery County-based attorney who played a crucial role in the prosecution of convicted child sex offender Jerry Sandusky has been suspended for professional misconduct on the case, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court determined in a ruling Wednesday.
The court voted 5-1 to suspend Frank Fina, based in Plymouth Meeting, for one year. They determined Fina had violated regulations in calling Cynthia Baldwin, the attorney of two Penn State administrators who were being questioned in the trial, to be a witness.
The action was inappropriate, according to the opinion issued Wednesday, because a lawyer should not be called to testify against the individuals whom they are representing.
Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach whose arrest and subsequent conviction spurred a lengthy investigation into the university, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
The court's opinion noted that such an action by Fina could have been approved, had he received permission from a judge to subpoena Baldwin.
However, instead of securing that approval, Fina "mislead" the court by claiming he would not ask questions that would compromise Baldwin's attorney-client privilege.
The Pennsylvania order is linked here. Justice Wecht issued an explanatory concurring opinion. Justice Dougherty dissented and found the sanction too severe.
The suspension is for a year and a day. (Mike Frisch)