When Jerry Sandusky’s Williamsport attorney in early April appealed his conviction and minimum 30-year prison sentence for sexually abusing young boys, a U.S. magistrate recommended that the petition be dismissed because the Sandusky’s sentencing in Center County had not been completed.
That situation is about to be corrected, according to a representative from the Center County Courts Office, who said Thursday that Sandusky was scheduled to hold a reconviction hearing on the morning of May 17.
The hearing was ordered nearly a year ago by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which upheld his conviction on 45 counts related to child sexual abuse involving several young boys.
The appeals court, however, ordered his case returned to Center County for a re-sentencing hearing due to questions regarding a $95,047 restitution order imposed by Warren County Judge Maureen A. Skerda. , who was presiding over his sentencing hearing on November 30, 2019.
The Superior Court’s order challenging restitution in the Sandusky case was issued on May 13, 2021.
In early April, Sandusky’s current attorney, Edward J. Rymsza, filed a federal petition in the U.S. District Court for the Intermediate District of Pennsylvania challenging Sandusky’s convictions and the 30 to 60-year sentence that was originally imposed after his trial in 2012.
Skerda was named to fire Sandusky in 2019 because the former Penn State assistant football coach was subject to several mandatory sentences that were ruled unconstitutional following a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling .
In his recent federal petition, Sandusky and his defense attorney are asking for a new trial based on a variety of issues, including ineffective counsel and Crown error.
Just three days after the federal motion was filed, Magistrate District Judge Joseph F. Saporito in Williamsport recommended that it be dismissed because it was filed prematurely.
The justice of the peace said federal appeals cannot proceed until all matters in state court are resolved and, as he pointed out, Sandusky’s sentence was overturned based on the refund issue.
Rymsza opposed the dismissal recommendation, asking that the case be stayed until a new sentencing could take place.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Malachy E. Mannion rejected the magistrate’s recommendation that the Sandusky motion be dismissed.
Instead, the district judge ordered the petition to be stayed or suspended, pending Sandusky’s re-sentencing.
The defense attorney, in arguing for a stay instead of a dismissal, cited previous rulings in which federal cases were stayed when filed prematurely.
The Superior Court, in returning the question of restitution for consideration, he explained, was concerned only with a “ministerial problem” not Sandusky’s conviction and prison term of 30 to 60 years, which the defense disputed.
Mannion went further in his analysis, pointing out that the Federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act provides a one-year time limit for a state inmate to file a motion for a federal review. of his case.
The judge raised the question — based on a 2019 ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia — whether the delay for the portion of the Superior Court’s decision that upheld Sandusky’s long prison sentence would begin to run upon issuance of the state court order even if the question of restitution remained unresolved.
“Accordingly, based on (the 3rd Circuit jurisprudence) and out of an abundance of caution … the court will grant the petitioner’s request to stay his (federal appeal) and hold it in abeyance until convicted. , and he will not dismiss the petition without prejudice as recommended,” Mannion wrote.
“In short, (Sandusky’s) claims regarding his counts of conviction and jail time may be exhausted even if he should be sentenced for the restitution which was also imposed as part of his sentence,” concluded the federal judge.