Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer waived his right to a preliminary hearing in his sex abuse case. As I was leaving for court today , Ann Curry asked Joe Amendola if he was competent to handle these sex abuse allegations. Ms. Curry asked a hard question that most criminal defense attorneys are asking. What is Mr. Amendola thinking in preparing his defense ? Maybe he is thinking that this is his 15 minutes of fame and he wants to appear with Bob Costas and on the Today show. From my perspective it appears every move that has been made is the wrong move.

First , Mr Amendola waived the preliminary hearing.. A preliminary hearing is a great tool to hear what the witnesses are going to say . It might be a criminal defense attorneys only opportunity to question them on the record . The purpose of a preliminary hearing is set out in this video. In the Curry interview , Amendola states he waived it because he did not want his client’s bail bond revoked. I understand that tactical decision , but sometimes it is more important to discover the facts in the case . Granted , I am not familiar with Pennsylvania criminal laws , but under Tennessee criminal laws a motion must be file giving the defense written notice at least five days before a bond revocation hearing. In Nashville , Tennessee child sex crime cases the District Attorney’s office seeks a direct presentment in order to avoid a preliminary hearing. Waiving the hearing did not make sense to me.

Second , I do not understand Mr. Amendola’s decision to allow Mr. Sandusky to give repeated interviews to the press. Years ago in Nashville , Perry March was under investigation for murdering his wife and he gave repeated interviews with the press. Now , Mr. March is behind bars. It appears that Mr. Sandusky is digging himself a hole where he will not be able to climb out. The U.s. Constitution gives you a right to remain silent . I suggest they use it.

For those facing a Tennessee sex crimes case or defending one , here is my thoughts :

  • Never let your client speak to anyone about the facts of the case. this means the police , the press or even your family. I would suggest they speak to no one about the case.
  • Never waive a preliminary hearing unless you get something concrete in exchange for waiving such a critical part of the case.

I see lawyers everyday waive the preliminary hearing . I still don’t understand it. Mr. Amendola waiver just drove the point home in a high profile sex crimes case.