Two Philly Joe's did battle in Sandusky trial

Posted: June 22, 2012

For the last two weeks, two Joes who've spent time working in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office have been at the center of the most-watched court spectacle in America: the trial of accused child sex predator Jerry Sandusky.

Joseph McGettigan, who at this time last year was Philadelphia's No. 2 prosecutor behind D.A. Seth Williams, is now a state deputy attorney general in charge of prosecuting Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach.

Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's defense attorney, began his career in the city D.A.'s office in the 1970s. He spent the trial trying to torch the credibility of his client's accusers and even some of the investigators.

Though both are at home in the courtroom, observers said, their styles and approaches to winning are very different.

McGettigan, 63, is decidedly low key and prefers to do his talking in the courtroom. A Google search of his name Thursday turned up 4,650 stories that mentioned him. Amendola, on the other hand, has been grabbing headlines, often for the wrong reasons.

Many of the 17,000 stories that mentioned him focused on the attorney's baffling decision before the trial to let Sandusky do two media interviews that ended up being widely criticized as damaging. Earlier this week, Amendola compared the trial to the soap opera "All My Children."

There are plenty of news reports from the fall that dredged up the fact that Amendola, at about age 49, impregnated a 16-year-old client named Mary Iavasile in the mid-1990s. They married in 2003, had a second child and split up.

"Joe [McGettigan] is one of the finest prosecutors that I have ever met. He's a fair guy. Joe says something — it's a deal. In other words, there's no going back, there's no double talk," said Philadelphia attorney Jay S. Gottlieb, who has practiced law in the city for 48 years.

"Joe McGettigan is an absolutely competent trial attorney," veteran Philadelphia defense attorney Nino Tinari said. "I have deep respect for him in terms of his trial ability and also for him as a person."

Tinari called Amendola "competent" also, but said he had never tried a case against him.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or deanm@phillynews.com

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