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Thursday, November 10, 2011


One of the first words I try to beat out of my 1Ls is "technicality." The law is not a technicality, nor should it be treated that way. And it is important for law students and lawyers to understand that, because too many non-lawyers don't.

Case in point: The reaction on Deadspin (yeah, I know, consider the source) to this story suggesting that the two indicted university officials may avoid the failure-to-report charge. In 2002, the time at which they heard about Sandusky and a boy in the football locker room shower, Pennsylvania law only mandated reporting when a person came directly into contact with a victim or perpetrator, not when the person only had second-hand knowledge. The law was expanded in 2007. This, some are saying, is them getting off on a technicality or through a loophole. No way. It cannot be a "technicality" for someone to avoid conviction for conduct that, at the time, was not illegal. Yes, they may have had a moral duty to do something. But we don't put people in jail for purely immoral conduct.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 10, 2011 at 02:13 PM in Current Affairs, Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink


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I love how some also consider the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution a technicality.

Posted by: anymouse | Nov 13, 2011 12:40:58 PM

I do not know if McQueary broke the law because I do not know who is a mandatory reporter under the law. I have been wondering since this broke why he has not been charged, so I may be missing something.

As to the second question: Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Nov 10, 2011 10:14:17 PM

Are you suggesting--as you seem to be--that Mike McQueary broke the law in going to Paterno--who escalated to Tweedledum and Tweedledumber, who then did nothing--and not the police?

If/When McQueary gets arrested (since he appears to be chargeable under the 2002 law), will his defense then be "Well, the people who are in charge of knowing the law didn't tell me I had to report it?"

Posted by: Ken Houghton | Nov 10, 2011 7:11:24 PM

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