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Why Joe Paterno Hired A Criminal Defense Attorney: In a Scandal Filled with Questions, It’s The Only Thing That Makes Sense

With each week seeming to bring forth new and disturbing allegations surrounding the Penn State scandal, countless questions abound regarding how something like this could have happened.  Among the many questions being discussed in the media —  as well as in homes and offices throughout the country – is why Joe Paterno would have hired a Washington-based high profile criminal defense attorney if he hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Although to some, Paterno’s hiring of a criminal defense attorney might have raised eyebrows (who may wonder why he would need representation if he isn’t being charged with a crime and didn’t do anything unlawful…) it makes a lot of legal sense.  While Paterno hasn’t been charged with anything, it’s always prudent to have a lawyer who is solely dedicated to protecting your own rights and interests when you are forced to navigate the difficult waters surrounding an investigation.  Paterno is dealing with questioning from police and prosecutors who have no attorney-client ethical duties toward him whatsoever.  Not only can he expect to be called as a witness in the criminal cases against former coach Jerry Sandusky – who, at this point, has been charged with 40 counts of sexual assault of eight children over a period of 15 years – but he will likely also serve as a key witness in the cases against former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley. As this closely watched case continues to unfold in the weeks to come, all eyes remain on Paterno – making his need for experienced legal counsel not only a smart move, but the right move…as witnesses can sometimes even become targets themselves.  Also, Paterno, perhaps both as an administrator at Penn State and individually, may likely be embroiled in civil lawsuits based on the abuse allegations.

While most people concede that Paterno may have committed no crime, the belief that he is guilty of moral failure is certainly widespread.  As the public watches what happens next, securing an experienced criminal defense attorney will ensure that he is guided through the legal system and adequately protected during what will undoubtedly be a trying time for all involved.  In a system where many witnesses do indeed become targets – and where the media is watching your every move –  having the right legal counsel was not only the right choice, but the only choice, for a man whose every move from here on in will be scrutinized by both the press and the public.

This case is a high-profile example pointing to the need for anyone involved in a legal situation – whether a witness or someone accused of any type of criminal wrongdoing – to seek the immediate counsel of a criminal defense attorney to help navigate the system.  As this case continues to unfold, check back here for our commentary into the legal ramifications of this complex case – and if you, or anyone you know, is ever in need of criminal defense counsel, we’re here 24/7 to help make sure that legal rights are protected in all cases.

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