The lawyer for accused child rapist and ex-Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky sounded almost gleeful a couple of weeks ago when asked about the preliminary hearing that would determine whether his client would face trial on dozens of child sex abuse charges.

The lawyer for accused child rapist and ex-Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky sounded almost gleeful a couple of weeks ago when asked about the preliminary hearing that would determine whether his client would face trial on dozens of child sex abuse charges.


Joe Amendola courted the press with statements about how he couldn't wait to get his hands on the victims, boasting that he would destroy them with cross-examination, etc.


As late as the night before the prelim, Amendola was still splaying his plume, huffing and puffing and threatening to blow the prosecutor's house down. 


But when the time came, the little lawyer-pig went wee wee wee, and he didn't make a dent in the charges. In fact, Amendola didn't have the hamshanks to lodge a single question at even one victim.


He claimed, after the fact, that he waived the hearing because he would not have been able to question the witnesses. But he passed the bar in Pennsylvania, which means he should know that while cross-examination is limited during a prelim, it is certainly allowed, and a few well-planned questions can produce tremendous tactical advantages.


Indeed, a few days after Sandusky's hearing, a similar proceeding was held to address perjury charges against two Penn State administrators accused of lying about a sexual assault that allegedly happened to victim No. 2 in a Penn State locker room shower in 2002. Lawyers for both men cross-examined witnesses at some length, even though they knew they would lose the hearing, because they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to elicit information from witnesses that they otherwise would have had no chance to question until trial.


This is why preliminary hearings are rarely waived. Defense lawyers know that even Mother Teresa could be tripped up if she tried to tell the same truthful story twice. Inconsistencies can make or break a case when the credibility of a single witness is crucial, especially when the allegations are old and memories for specific details have begun to fade. Any defense lawyer can easily exploit such things to generate reasonable doubt at trial.


Although it's not bad lawyering, per se, to waive the prelim, it's felony stupid to waive it after boasting to the world that you're chomping at the bit to make it happen. Having misled the public, Amendola may have lost credibility with the public (thus potential jurors) on all the other claims he’s made, such as his statement that victim No. 2 will testify that nothing sexual happened in the shower.


Amendola tried to spin his decision to waive the prelim by suggesting he has some genius plan that mere mortals just don't understand. But it’s hard to believe Amendola is a genius in light of his failed tactics thus far, including several gigantic PR blunders that have added rocket fuel to the prosecution's inferno.


During one media interview, authorized by Amendola, Sandusky admitted touching naked boys in the shower. Then he hesitated –– a lot –– when asked whether he is sexually attracted to children. During another interview, Amendola can be heard off camera coaching Sandusky to say that his interest in children “is not sexual.”


The lawyers have been making wild claims themselves, such as Sandusky may have been touching the kids in order to teach them about hygiene, and that he was only “horsing around.”


Even a simple glance at Mike McQueary's testimony adequately puts that claim to rest, unless by "horsing around" the lawyers meant to draw on the experiences of Catherine the Great.


If I didn't know better, I'd say Sandusky's defense team is setting the case up for an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, which is a step beyond a hail Mary pass and way past the Twinkie defense. 


If it's the only defense available in a huge case like this, then there has to be a huge amount of dumb lawyering to make it work. But Amendola and his team may be well on their way.