Sue Paterno Got Hosed by Her Own Attorneys: the ‘Partial’ Paterno Report Hides Relevant Documents

Lawyers who try cases tend to be more than a little skeptical when the other side wants to call the wife to testify. And that skepticism often proves warranted, as the often gullible, highly emotional, if not distraught female gets on the stand to swear to the probity, yea, heavenly virtuousness of her husband (though she often had nary a clue about what really went on once the husband left her door each morning to venture forth on the working world.)

The reader ought bring a similar skepticism to the extremely shoddy – and deceptive — “Paterno Report” just released.

Perhaps the major point made by former AG Thornburgh — after translation from the legalese — is this plaintive, shrill complaint (which, not incidentally, completely undermines his entire mission and all of his conclusions) :

I, Dick Thornburgh, have had access, apparently, to only about one percent of the documents and witness statements that Louie Freeh had access to— and that just ain’t fair!

Well, first of all, whether it’s fair or not, it means that Thornburgh has almost zero objective basis for any attempt to sharpshoot Mr. Freeh.  Thornburgh today admits he’s never even seen most of the evidence Freeh saw. So Freeh’s “weighing of all the evidence” is entitled to a much, much stronger presumption of accuracy and fairness than any hyperventilated claim registered here today by Mr. Thornburgh.

And just because Freeh doesn’t list every document and witness he reviewed, doesn’t mean Freeh didn’t review them. In fact, the Freeh report specifically states that some evidence was not included in the public version — it was (legitimately) saved for the report to the Board. So Freeh reviewed it all. Thornburgh couldn’t, and didn’t.

But you know what? — it actually is eminently fair that Freeh saw it all and Thornburgh didn’t. Freeh was supposed to be independent, and he had an attorney-client relation with Penn State. The Board gave him full access. Mr. Thornburgh didn’t have any attorney-client relation with Penn State, and he was hired by a very interested, biased party.

But also — here’s right back ‘atchu Dick Thornburgh:

Tell us, if you think it’s so important to reveal this sort of thing, where you put JoPa’s daily calendar. And why you haven’t appended it to your report.

It’s fair to assume Paterno kept many documents, some digital or online. It’s also fair to assume that Sue or some other Paterno (all of whom ordered-up this vaunted “Paterno Report”) right now has possession of all those documents. Most likely, boxes and boxes, and boxes of evidence. Do you recall, Mr. Thornburgh, the discussion back last year about how probative Mr. Paterno’s daily calendar might be in determining when, and how long, Mr. Paterno met with important fact witnesses — over a ten year period — like Messrs. Spanier, Curley and Shultz? Where is that calendar? Where are those documents? Isn’t that what you ought be showing us as a part of your unique report?

Mr. Thornburgh, you do have the attorney-client relation with the Paternos. If you and Mr. Sollers decided not to produce those documents as a part of your “Paterno Report”, should we then call it the “Partial Paterno Report?” Can you at least tell us, without releasing that treasure trove of documents personal to Jo Pa, whether you even bothered to review them yourself? The question is so important that I’ll ask it again, Mr. Thornburgh: where is Mr. Paterno’s calendar, why did you not append it to your report, or even make any reference to it?

But let me get to a larger point evident from a review of this sorry report : Sue Paterno, you got hosed. Thornburgh, Wink Sollers — they saw you coming. Your garden of advisors, including Wink Sollers, and Dick Thornburgh, and others, read the same article I read, which confirmed that the Paterno Penn State pension payout last year was $13 million. All of these so-called advisers understand there’s a whole lot of money laying around, with which they can be paid — very substantial hourly rates. And they ginned up a largely useless, pretentious, self-defeating analysis, using your millions.

Here’s a fundamental example of that uselessness: Mr. Thornburg suggests that the findings of the Freeh report were “not supported by the record.” This categorical statement begs the question: what standard, Mr. Thornburg, are you suggesting ought be applied for determining whether there is, indeed, “support” in the record? Preponderance, which is nearly 51%? By “clear and convincing evidence? Or, the highest (criminal law) standard, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

He doesn’t tell us.

The fact that Thornburgh has omitted any reference to the standard of proof which he asserts has not been met is pretty categorical proof that Thornburgh himself knows that his report is a put-up job. He knows that these these “standard of proof” issues are bedrock issues, and intentionally just leaves it all vague. Most likely because he knows that most, if not all of the issues and conclusions addressed by Freeh required only a preponderance of proof — and that Mr. Freeh met that standard.

Two final points:

1. This one is a window onto Mr. Thornburgh’s crafty deception: he claims that he is “aware of no witness who has challenged the veracity of Mr. Paterno’s statements.” This is cute, but disingenuous; there’s a basketful of competent, probative evidence in support of Freeh’s negative conclusions about Jo Pa’s failure to act. That no witness has directly “challenged” Mr. Paterno’s version is an empty statement, probably true only because the late Jo Pa said as little as possible about all this. No one ever had a chance to sit in a room with him, hear his version, and then respond affirmatively.

So Mr. Thornburgh’s assertion here is actually just more support for the conclusion that Paterno worked a coverup which precluded any contrary opinions.   And note what Thornburgh does not say in the statement: he is not claiming that there was no other evidence whatsoever which would challenge the “veracity of Mr. Paterno’s statements.”  Because he can’t make that suggestion: there were many such documents, e-mails,  and statements.

2. Mr. Thornburg also suggests that the Freeh had “no evidence” of a conspiracy, primarily because Mr. Freeh relied on the fact that Paterno exercised “excessive influence” around Penn State. This tangential assertion exposes Mr. Thornburgh’s dedication to stirring up diversion. In fact, if Mr. Thornburg is suggesting that Joe Paterno did not have “excessive influence” in the Penn State milieu, then his report ought to be filled with recitation, chapter and verse, of every piece of documentary,, testimonial or other evidence in support of this zany claim.

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About brewonsouthu

Michigan and Big Ten fan, former lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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