Could You Be Impartial?

The Herculean task of finding 12 men and/or women to sit on Jerry Sandusky’s jury is underway at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte. The former Penn State football Defensive Coordinator is charged with more than 50 counts connected to the alleged molestations of at least 10 young boys over a 15 year period.

The trial is playing out in Centre County, home to Penn State University and The Second Mile, the charity founded by Sandusky more than 30 years ago. Prosecutors allege that Sandusky used the charity to prey on vulnerable at-risk boys.

Questions about whether or not an impartial jury can be found in Centre County have been floating around since the charges were revealed last November. The lawyers on both sides will face unique challenges in this case, as they try to weed through the list of potential jurors for a trial that is expected to take several weeks.

Robert Power, a law professor at Widener University in Dauphin County says he believes the court can find 12 impartial jurors, but that the process could take some time, certainly longer than in a typical case where voir dire can take as little as an hour or two. Power says even potential jurors with no ties to the university or any other aspects of the case may have formed opinions about it based on more than 6 months of intense media coverage.

The court has set aside this entire week for selection of a jury and the alternates. Testimony is not expected to begin before Monday, June 11th.


Capitol, State Capitol, Dome

Top Republicans to Meet with Governor Tom Corbett

As the 2012 budget season prepares to enter the final stretch run, top Republican leaders from the state House and Senate were planning to meet with Governor Tom Corbett on Tuesday to present their negotiated budget package.

The state Senate passed a general fund budget last month that spends about a half-billion dollars more than the governor’s original proposal, which was unveiled in February. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says the two chambers have ironed out “about 90%” of their differences in preparation for talks with the administration. Indications are that lawmakers are hoping to restore some of the governor’s proposed cuts to higher education if the universities promise to rein in any tuition increases for the coming year. Cuts to basic ed and county services could also be partially restored after the Commonwealth saw increased revenue collections in recent months.

The governor proposed a $27.1 billion general fund budget in February. He is scheduled to visit for his monthly Ask the Governor program on Thursday.



Rulings Issued Ahead of Sandusky Trial

The judge has issued several rulings ahead of the start of jury selection June 5th in the Jerry Sandusky trial.

The media will not be allowed to tweet, blog or communicate electronically from the courtroom during the child sexual abuse trial of the former Penn State assistance football coach. Judge John Cleland  reversed part of an earlier Decorum Order that would have allowed reporters to tweet during the trial.

The judge has also denied requests from alleged victims 3,4,5 and 7 to keep their identities concealed during the trial.  In his ruling, the judge said that there is no support in Pennsylvania law for offering anonymity to an adult witness because the witness is one of a class of victims of a particular crime.

Judge Cleland is denying a request by Sandusky’s lawyer to order prosecutors to turn over information they collected about potential jurors.

Later in the day, the state Supreme Court denied a request to delay the trial. Sandusky’s attorneys had turned to the state’s highest court after the judge and a state Superior Court panel also rejected the motion to delay.


State Revenues Come in Below Estimates in May

Overall General Fund revenue collections in Pennsylvania were lower than anticipated in May according to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.   The state collected 1-point-9 billion dollars in General Fund revenue last month, 2-point-3 percent less than expected.

It follows two months of stronger than expected revenues in March and April.  The state Senate’s proposed budget restores some funding cuts Governor Corbett had proposed in February, based in part on the better collections those months.

Sales tax receipts, personal income and corporate tax revenues were all down for the month of May.  However, other General Fund tax revenue collections, including cigarette, malt beverage, liquor and table game taxes, were 7-point-9 million above projections at 131-point-5 million for the month.

So far with one month left in this fiscal year, collections total 24-point-9 billion,  1-point-3 percent or 332.9 million dollars below estimate.

Back in February, the governor’s office projected the state would end the fiscal year $719-million dollars below estimate.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 06.01.12

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