Penn State GC Cleared of Ethics Violations in Sandusky Case
When football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing boys, the locker room talk changed.
It was no longer about what he did in the showers; it was about who covered for him. Three university officials soon joined Sandusky on the guilty bench.
But no one thought their lawyer would be in trouble. Cynthia Baldwin, after all, was a former justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Baldwin, as general counsel for Penn State, faced disciplinary charges for alleged conflicts of interest in representing the university officials in grand jury proceedings. She was also accused of disclosing confidential client information to the grand jury.
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier and the other university officials were sentenced to jail terms for child endangerment in the Sandusky scandal. The former coach is serving 30 to 60 years in prison.
In the discipline case, Baldwin said her clients consented to joint representation. She said she divulged their information to defend herself in a separate investigation for allegedly obstructing justice.
A disciplinary panel found that Baldwin did not violate any ethics rules. Under Pennsylvania law, the panel said, lawyers may reveal information they reasonably believe gives them a defense to criminal charges against them.
Baldwin, an alumna of Penn State, was its first general counsel. She served there from 2010 to 2012.
From 2006 to 2008, she was a justice on the state supreme court. She began her judicial career in 1989, when she became the first black woman elected to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
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