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Penn State Trustees [may have] Violated State Law
Scoop.co.nz ^ | 11/21/11 | Walter Brasch

Posted on 11/22/2011 9:36:06 AM PST by Winged Hussar

Conference calls involving a quorum without public notice aren’t allowed. At least one conference call was conducted on Saturday, Nov. 5. A meeting by telephone is just as illegal as a meeting with all persons at a table if it isn’t publically announced.

Several emergency meetings were held the next few days. The Sunshine Act allows emergency meetings. The Trustees conducted meetings Sunday, Nov. 6, Monday, Nov. 7, and Wednesday, Nov. 9. By law, an emergency meeting can be called, without public notice, only for “the purpose of dealing with a real or potential emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property.” [65 Pa.C.S.A §703] Even in the wildest stretch of that definition, there was no clear and present danger. That occurred years ago when the university didn’t contact police to report the actions of a man believed to be a child molester.

Executive sessions to discuss personnel issues and some other items are allowed—if they are announced at public meetings “immediately prior or subsequent to the executive session.” [65 Pa.C.S.S. §708(b)] But, they were not. About 10 p.m., Nov. 9, following an emergency meeting, Board vice-chair John P. Surma, flanked by 21 of the 31 trustees, publicly announced it had fired Paterno and PSU president Graham Spanier. Surma told the media the decision was unanimous, thus indicating a vote was done in secret and not under public scrutiny as required.

The Trustees also violated both Paterno’s and Spanier’s rights under law.

(Excerpt) Read more at scoop.co.nz ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: paterno; psu; sandusky; trustees
Assisting on this story was Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. Walter Brasch, as president of both the Keystone chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and Pennsylvania Press Club, was active in fighting for a stronger Right-to-Know law and enforcement of the Sunshine Act. He is an award-winning syndicated columnist and retired university professor. His latest book is Before the First Snow, a mystery/thriller set in Pennsylvania.

In other words, this is not just somebody's opinion but was prepared in consultation with an attorney. I inserted [may have] in the title under the standard procedure that violations of the law are always alleged until proven.

1 posted on 11/22/2011 9:36:09 AM PST by Winged Hussar
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To: Winged Hussar

I think it’s a hard argument to claim the Penn State Trustees aren’t facing an emergency.


2 posted on 11/22/2011 9:39:25 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: colorado tanker

“Emergency” = the kind in which you can legally dial 911, not the kind in which you have a problem with the media.


3 posted on 11/22/2011 9:45:28 AM PST by Winged Hussar (http://moveonpleasemoveon.blogspot.com/)
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To: colorado tanker

I agree. Decisions they would have had to be considering during that time frame could have potentially HUGE financial costs to the university over coming years as this all plays out.


4 posted on 11/22/2011 9:47:05 AM PST by NEMDF
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To: Winged Hussar

Would Joe Paterno have been in trouble if he had violated chain of command by going straight to law enforcement with the report he had heard about Sansdusky rather than following established protocol by passing it on to his superiors?


5 posted on 11/22/2011 9:48:59 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Vigilanteman

Don’t think so. The PSU president already disliked him and wanted him out. Paterno would have been protected under whistleblower laws. Had he reported it, he would have been a true real Paterno, instead of a fake one.


6 posted on 11/22/2011 9:55:28 AM PST by battlecry
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To: colorado tanker

emergency = “clear and present danger to life or property”

This means that that a person or tangible property (not cash or potential future donations) is at risk of being damaged or destroyed.

Embarrassment does not qualify.
Scandal does not qualify.


7 posted on 11/22/2011 9:56:58 AM PST by Notwithstanding
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To: Winged Hussar
Disagree. Decisions how to address the crimes committed on the campus need to be made immediately. The victims have been ignored far too long. In addition, the University may well be bankrupted by the upcoming lawsuits. It will likely see its athletic programs fall from elite status for years, if not decades. They may also lose revenue due to students choosing to go elsewhere. Even though they run a nonprofit, their enterprise is in jeopardy.

I'm not defending Penn State. The gravity of the terrible events that are being uncovered is what is creating this emergency.

8 posted on 11/22/2011 9:57:19 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: Winged Hussar

I’m sure they will both sue, not for the MONEY you know, but so others will be saved.


9 posted on 11/22/2011 10:01:47 AM PST by ichabod1 (Vote for Rick "Adios Mofo" Perry, 2012!)
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To: colorado tanker

It may see its football program given the death penalty like SMU if it turns out there is a conspiracy. They ought to shut it down themselves, but you know they won’t do that. Well, I don’t know... how fair is that to the players and the students? Here’s what I think they should do: Fire everyone associated with the football program and start over fresh. At this point nobody knows who knew what when, and it’s going to be a cloud hanging over their heads.

Oh, I agree it was an emergency. They had to make a decision right then in order to know who would be coaching Sunday.


10 posted on 11/22/2011 10:06:03 AM PST by ichabod1 (Vote for Rick "Adios Mofo" Perry, 2012!)
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To: ichabod1

I doubt Penn State will voluntarily shut down its program. It will be really interesting to see what the NCAA does. I’m not familiar enough with their rules to know if they cover a crazy case like this. But if the “death penalty” can be imposed for giving players a stipend, shouldn’t rape in the locker room at least do the same???


11 posted on 11/22/2011 10:11:43 AM PST by colorado tanker
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To: Winged Hussar

“Emergency” = the kind in which you can legally dial 911, not the kind in which you have a problem with the media.”

You really have to look at the By-Laws that state explicitly what the trustees can and can’t do. The By-Laws often provide exclusions for special cases, such as this. As the president of a board myself, I can tell you that an emergency is usually whatever the director of the board thinks is an emergency.


12 posted on 11/22/2011 10:12:44 AM PST by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: Winged Hussar

When liberals want to violate laws, the laws get violated. Period, end of story.


13 posted on 11/22/2011 10:16:16 AM PST by Steely Tom (Obama goes on long after the thrill of Obama is gone)
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To: Vigilanteman
There would have been zero violation of chain of command in that case.

It might help if you had been paying at least a vague amount of attention.

JoPa is on the board of The Second Mile. The responsibilities that come with that make him a mandatory reporter and indeed these are the responsibilities that are going to have him in hot water as this plays out. There is nobody who is over him in a chain of command as regards his position with The Second Mile, so the question itself is moot.

JoPa’s position with the university is secondary.

14 posted on 11/22/2011 10:31:53 AM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: Kirkwood

As this plays out, if the board is trying to isolate themselves from a conspiracy coverup by making snap decisions to discharge anybody and everybody at will then that will be a problem down the road (firings should have been done years ago with complete disassociation, IOW granting privileges on campus was a big mistake).

The entire board should resign, quit, step down, whatever, starting with counsel but the trustees decided to add another layer of obfuscation by hiring a special investigator.


15 posted on 11/22/2011 11:29:28 AM PST by Razzz42
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To: MrEdd

While I have my own speculation regarding what Paterno (and a bunch of other people) MUST have known about Sandusky, McCloskey’s story about victim No. 2 is even more convoluted.

It’s not at all clear that Paterno was a mandated reporter under Pennsylvania law based on what McCloskey (and his dad) told him. There was one story told to the grand jury, and Paterno probably has a different take on it. In any event, he had only hearsay to report. He could have called the cops and said “This guy told me that he saw a crime occuring yesterday. Here’s his number, I don’t know anything else. You should question the witness directly”.
But really, that’s about all, from an LE standpoint.

Of course, the cynical among us might paint a more conspiratorial picture. I mean, really, if McClosky saw a crime, there really is no logical explanation for his failure to either a) stop it, or b) call 911 and report it. Oh, there IS one logical explanation: he was looking for some kind of quid-pro-quo from the football program, which would then pitch Paterno and the rest of the sorry lot into a big old pot of hot water....


16 posted on 11/22/2011 12:06:31 PM PST by absalom01 (You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.)
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To: colorado tanker
I think it’s a hard argument to claim the Penn State Trustees aren’t facing an emergency.

It's not hard if you actually read this portion of the relevant PA law:only for “the purpose of dealing with a real or potential emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property.” [65 Pa.C.S.A §703]

17 posted on 11/22/2011 12:13:02 PM PST by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Kirkwood
I can tell you that an emergency is usually whatever the director of the board thinks is an emergency.

Are Directors allowed to contravene (break) State laws where you live?

18 posted on 11/22/2011 12:14:08 PM PST by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Razzz42

“the trustees decided to add another layer of obfuscation by hiring a special investigator” to whose official notice I just brought the Trustees’ alleged violation of the Sunshine Law. PSUhelp “at” freehgroup.com


19 posted on 11/22/2011 1:25:54 PM PST by Winged Hussar (http://moveonpleasemoveon.blogspot.com/)
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To: absalom01
he had only hearsay to report.

Utter and complete comprehension FAIL.

He had a first hand witness account - who was there and talking. That is beyond hearsay.

When you develop a working vocabulary you can come again back and talk.

http://www.lawiki.org/lawwiki/Hearsay

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearsay_in_United_States_law

20 posted on 11/22/2011 1:34:45 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: MrEdd
He had a first hand witness account - who was there and talking. That is beyond hearsay.

Not Parterno, you twit. Paterno wasn't a cop: he was a football coach. So, if he were to call the cops, his report to them would be second-hand, ie, hearsay. "This guy told me he saw a crime occur. Please talk to him."

Better yet, "Hey, McClosky, you and I are going to call the cops right now and you're going to tell them what you just told me."

Not sure why you have your panties in such a twist over semantics, though.

Perhaps in Texas the football coach takes child abuse reports, sends the team's detective bureau out to investigate, and then tries to get the DA to file. In most other places, that's what the cops are supposed to do, if people call them to report the crime. I can see how that distincition might be confusing to you, though.

21 posted on 11/22/2011 1:57:58 PM PST by absalom01 (You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.)
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To: absalom01
Paterno wasn't a cop: he was a football coach

Irrelevant.

Paterno was a board member on for The Second Mile, the charity for disadvantaged kids from which the boys were obtained. As such he has a legal responsibility to report things like this directly to law enforcement. Every time. Whether it is kids from the institution or some other kid.

His connection to Penn State mitigates this responsibility stemming from his position with The Second Mile as much as the brand of toothpaste he uses on a particular day mitigates that same responsibility.

You are myopically attempting to pretend that the only responsibility JoPa had in this comes from his position as coach.

The information he received was first hand to him. Under both Pennsylvania and Federal law his position with The Second Mile mandated that he report the allegations to law enforcement to be investigated. The cops would then check out the reliability of the source Paterno learned from.

22 posted on 11/22/2011 2:21:42 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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