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Questions for the lawyers

I’m kind of flying off the cuff here because I need to get back to billable hours :), but I have been wondering a little bit about the legal issues in the whole Penn State mess. Some of my questions / comments are as follows, and I guess I find it interesting that I have not seen any media analysis of this. Like any lawyer, I qualify my concerns by the fact that I have hardly touched the litigation realm in the last 18 months and, on the whole, have only been licensed right at 4 years. Thus, I could be completely missing something, probably in the principle/agent/employer field. Oh well, here goes:

We saw Paterno release a statement saying he would retire at the end of the year. We then saw the board of trustees immediately dismiss paterno. We then saw all sorts of raw, emotional reactions running the gamut of expected human response. But I do not understand how it was ever an issue, even to Paterno and his own lawyers. It seems like once this whole mess unfolded, every single person or entity involved basically became adverse, or so potentially adverse that the distinction seems negligible, to every other entity involved. Perhaps the board saw that, but it would have seemed to me that Paterno should have stepped down so that he could at least have the choice to speak or not speak on anything he so desired. Instead, you had an employer-employee situation where both sides may have seemingly divergent interests, yet one side had no control over the situation (Paterno) and the other side had a increasingly hostile situation where, if I’m PSU’s lawyers, I’m terrified that Paterno would, whether intentionally or not, throw every person and entity under the bus. Perhaps I’m kind of wondering if JoePa was about 3 days too late in lawyering up and, had he done so, he would have resigned immediately so that he could do whatever it took to protect his own rear end. Of course, everything must be qualified by the fact that the man is penn state, and maybe it’s a little unreasonable to think that he could abandon 60 years of his life in anything less than 3 days. Also, I guess you could run the risk that an immediate resignation looks like an admission of guilt, so I’m not sure how I would advise Paterno, were I his lawyer.

I still can’t figure out what McQueary’s role is in remaining with the program but I’m pretty sure its not simply to coach wide receivers or because the Board feels that his presence is not damaging. So what is the strategy in keeping McQueary around ? Fear that McQueary will retaliate ? But really, how bad could a wrongful discharge claim be at this point ? Was it a prosecutorial request, perhaps to be of more assistance in this whole investigation ? Very confusing.

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