A judge's medical leave is unlikely to delay the criminal case against three former Pennsylvania State University administrators charged with covering up child sex-abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Judge Todd Hoover was placed on medical leave as of April 10, according to an announcement by the state Administrative Office of the Courts. His illness was not specified. The release said his leave was open-ended.
Hoover, a Dauphin County Court judge, has presided over the prosecution of former Penn State president Graham B. Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, and former athletic director Tim Curley. They are accused of lying to a grand jury and conspiring to conceal that Sandusky was a serial child sex abuser.
A Superior Court appeal is fighting Hoover's decision that a former Penn State lawyer did not violate the three defendants' rights during grand jury matters.
The Supreme Court application for emergency relief is sealed.
The higher courts are expected to take months to resolve those appeals, and the court said Hoover's absence was not expected to slow the case.
"At this time, no action is required in these cases by the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas," the statement said.
Lawyers involved with the case agreed that Hoover's leave should not affect the case in the near term. If the appeals are resolved and Hoover is still ill, another judge would be assigned to the case.
"I hope that Judge Hoover returns," said Caroline Roberto, Curley's lawyer. "If he does not, I'm sure the president judge will assign the case to someone else or himself."
That judge would have to review the case before it could move forward, experts said.
"It depends on how busy the judge is and how thick the file is," said Widener University law professor Jules Epstein. "It's something a fairly good judge could manage in a matter of weeks or a month or so."
Authorities charged Curley and Schultz in 2011, at the same time as Sandusky, and Spanier in 2012. Sandusky's case was resolved in 2012, but the case against the administrators has lagged.
"I think the preference would be that the case would move along more expeditiously, but there's really very little we can do about it," said Chuck Ardo, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office. "We wish Judge Hoover well and a speedy recovery, and we look forward to presenting our case in court."