How Much Will Pennsylvania Taxpayers Be Paying The Law Firm Of Cozen O'Connor For the Suit Filed Against The NCAA Over The Penn State Sanctions?
This is from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer as reported by staff writers Jeremy Roebuck and Amy Worden on January 4, 2013.
Gov. Corbett said Thursday that his thinking evolved over time regarding a series of NCAA-imposed sanctions against Pennsylvania State University and that he decided in late October that he would sue the organization. His remarks... came a day after his office filed an unprecedented federal antitrust lawsuit seeking to overturn those punishments by college sports' governing body and months after he urged Penn State to "accept the serious penalties" without argument.
But while Corbett worked to explain this apparent contradiction, critics continued to question the timing of his legal challenge, its potential political implications, and even the law firm hired to wage the battle in court. "I did not have all the facts in front of me," Corbett said in a Thursday morning interview with KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. "I did not know the NCAA was not following their own rules."
Bruce L. Castor Jr., a Montgomery County Republican and potential 2014 primary challenger to Corbett, was critical of the turnaround. The lawsuit "smacks of political gamesmanship and too little, too late," he said in a statement Thursday. The governor's "sudden reversal, and the decision to spend substantial taxpayer money on a federal lawsuit, now raises more questions than it answers."Since launching the Sandusky investigation as attorney general, Corbett has become a frequent punching bag for disaffected Penn State fans unhappy with his early handling of the case, his role as a member of the University's board of trustees, and his initial reaction to the NCAA penalties.
"No matter what his motives are with the lawsuit, the practical aspect is, it has political ramifications for the governor," said Chris Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College. "It's clear the Sandusky issue has become more of a liability than an asset for him. It looks like he's trying to change that." Castor and other critics Thursday questioned whether the governor was also bending rules to his advantage by excluding incoming Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane from the lawsuit's process.
Kane, who is to take office Jan. 15, channeled outrage among Penn State fans as part of her election bid this fall, running largely on a promise to investigate Corbett's handling of the Sandusky case.Corbett's general counsel, Jim Schultz, said Wednesday that Kane was not consulted before the lawsuit was filed or before current Attorney General Linda Kelly decided in December to hand over the case to the governor's office.
Kelly, a Corbett appointee, told the Associated Press on Thursday that she thought the ongoing criminal cases involving Penn State administrators could pose a conflict of interest and demand too much staff time to effectively pursue a suit against the NCAA. State law grants the attorney general authority to delegate power to pursue and defend lawsuits involving state agencies as well as to hire outside counsel to handle a case.
Schultz, the governor's top lawyer, said Wednesday that his own former law firm, Cozen O'Connor, will handle the case for Corbett's office.
My two comments about this story are that Attorney General Kelly has appeared to have gotten rid of the potential problem of having her staff handle the case by referring the case out to Cozen O'Connor. That's seems to be a good thing. But my take on this is that it has not been revealed to the Pennsylvania taxpayers what the fee arrangement is between the Commonwealth and Cozen O'Connor. To my knowledge that firm does not handle cases on a contingency fee basis. Therefore the taxpayers will be paying the firm on an hourly basis, a potentially very expensive proposition in what I see as a very difficult case at best. (See Max Kennerly's thorough analysis on just how difficult the case is).
If Cozen O'Connor can get money redirected back to Pennsylvania from the NCAA sanctions, great. But if the case were handled on a contingency fee basis, Cozen O'Connor would be assuming all of the risk of loss. That's a much better deal for Pennsylvanians. I would hope the fee arrangement would be something that is ultimately revealed to the public.