I watched with utter amazement, disgust and disbelief after the verdict last week as Jerry Sandusky’s lead attorney, Joe Amendola, violated, within just a few minutes of TV time, virtually every solemn professional obligation a lawyer owes to his client.
His client had just been convicted after a three week trial on 45 out of 48 counts of heinous sex crimes committed against little boys over a 15 year time span. Faced with this kind of predicament, any reasonably competent professional defense lawyer would have followed the advice any competent defense lawyer always gives his clients.
At a minimum he would have kept his mouth shut.
He should have kept his flapping mouth shut. If there were ever a time that a client desperately needed a lawyer and proper counsel, this was that time.
But instead of honoring his professional commitments and obligations to his client, this guy approached a TV media microphone in front of the court house and millions of television viewers, and proceeded, with a long, rambling and self serving statement, to throw his already convicted client under the bus.
“The Sandusky family is disappointed with verdict but we respect the verdict,” said Amendola. “We faced a mountain of evidence … it was like attempting to climb Mt Everest … obviously we didn’t make it… the jury believed the witnesses and that is no surprise … we expected that… we have no problem with the jury’s verdict … they acted genuinely … in good faith … we had a good jury …”
“… the prosecution handled the case in an exemplary manner … we congratulate them, Amendola continued,
“… the judge was marvelous … the ultimate jurist … he was fair … firm … reasonable with everything we asked for … except on our request for a continuance … it would be my privilege to serve in any case in front of Judge Cleland in the future … he gave counsel and the defendant a fair shake and a fair trial … he did an outstanding job …”
“… we feel we didn’t have enough time to prepare … we feel we have some decent appeal issues …
Essentially, this defense lawyer is admitting to the world that his client got a fair shake and a fair trial; the prosecutor was great; the judge marvelous; fair; reasonable, etc. etc. He would have liked a bit more time to prepare but that will be the issue for an appeal. Obviously, he has nothing else.
Now even if all of that is true, and it most likely is, there are still some truths which are best left for others to say. It is not the job of a defense lawyer to lay bare for the entire world to see the weaknesses in his client’s case. That’s the prosecutor’s job.
Then out of the blue he launched into the reasons why Sandusky didn’t testify as if there were no such thing as attorney client privilege; no such thing as privileged communications between a lawyer and his client. Sandusky, according to his attorney, apparently didn’t testify at his trial because his adopted son Matt came forward late during the proceedings with his own abuse allegations against him.
“… Jerry wanted to testify … and our whole case was predicated on that … we had to reluctantly keep him from testifying… even though he still wanted to … he denied abusing the boy … but it would have destroyed any chance of acquittal if he testified and then the son rebutted … We anticipated that he (Matt) would be a defense witness … Jerry said that Matt has had problems ever since he lived with them … which led him to do irrational things sometimes …”
“Essentially, Jerry will receive a life sentence …,” his lawyer concluded.
The very next day, Sandusky's other defense attorney Karl Rominger, on his personal radio show, reiterated that he and his co-counsel, Joe Amendola, were simply unprepared for trial. Rominger went so far as to say both he and Amendola tried to get off the case the morning of jury selection.
How about that! Defense attorney’s have personal radio shows where they discuss privileged client information for the benefit of the world’s curiosity, and admit trying to ditch their client in his time of need.
“I thought Joe Amendola's press conference was bad enough. I was wrong. His interview with Anderson Cooper -- at least the beginning of it -- was worse,” opined columnist Bryan Floyd.
“This just seems like one big joke to Amendola. He's mugging for the cameras, smiling and laughing. Again, he was the defense attorney for now-convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky -- a man found guilty of child sex abuse. But here he is, asking if he's talking to someone cute when being put on with Anderson Cooper.”
“This is a real attorney in a high-profile case. He just got finished up with an incredibly messy trial that involved gut-wrenching testimony and graphic details. And he's joking around everywhere he goes, hopping from TV station to TV station.
It's just incredibly insane. Show some tact, man.”
Tact is not something these defense lawyers are familiar with. They’re in the profession for themselves – not their clients.
Defense attorney Karl Rominger told CNN yesterday that Sandusky is being held on suicide watch in protective custody away from other inmates. The jail would not comment on Sandusky's condition to ABC News.
The jail won’t comment but the attorney will.
With lawyers like this, who needs attorneys?