CLEARFIELD – Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts Brian Spencer is continuing to refute allegations made by both Clearfield County judges that he’s refused to resolve issues in the clerk’s office.
Spencer released a statement by e-mail to local media Tuesday morning. He specifically said that President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman is using his “political clout” to influence the prothonotary election. Spencer’s full statement read:
“The prothonotary has been open and willing to work with Judge Ammerman to solve any issues, and has made numerous requests of the judge to sit down and discuss the matters claimed to be problems. Not once has the judge been willing to have such a meeting.
“Once again, Judge Ammerman is airing in a public forum through the media complaints about the prothonotary instead of coming to him directly with a legitimate concern. He has made the statement in writing that he intends to bring his complaints out in the public.
“This just so happens to be the prothonotary’s election year and a clear indication that he intends to use his political clout to influence this election.
“Judge Ammerman has now publicly commented upon personnel issues regarding county employees. While this is most unprofessional and reckless, it is also quite telling.
“Neither Judge Ammerman nor Judge Cherry work for Mr. Spencer, and as a result, have neither the purpose nor the ability to know the reasons surrounding any employee issue.
“As much as the judge may want to be involved in the operation of every facet of the day-to-day operations of the courthouse, it is simply not his function.
“Furthermore, if the judge was truly concerned about the separation of an employee, he could easily ask and find that the decision was a necessary one and not taken before all other options were exhausted.
“Nevertheless, these are personnel issues that are of a sensitive nature, and it is highly inappropriate to air them in the media as the judge has chosen to do.
“Never once has either judge reached out for an explanation of the terms of such proceedings. The employee who was let go was not indispensable and the other highly experienced and capable employees stepped in, keeping the office running at a respectable level even though it was short staffed.
“The facts presented to the judges have refuted the baseless claims made against the prothonotary, and the claims that Mr. Spencer released members from the jury selection duties are false. Mr. Spencer, while working jury selection, always referred any requests for leave to court administration.
“Despite Judge Ammerman’s antagonistic attitude and insistence on using the media to try to harm the prothonotary’s reputation and negatively influence an election, the prothonotary is still willing to sit down in a meeting with the judges and privately discuss the matters of which they are concerned.
“The people of Clearfield County deserve better from our political system. I have and will continue to maintain an open door policy for both Judge Ammerman and Judge Cherry to discuss any issues that they may have, even though Judge Ammerman has stated in a letter to my solicitor, the court is done wasting time with Mr. Spencer on this issue.
“On that point, we agree, as we do not believe that the media is the proper venue to resolve this issue.”
On July 12, a letter in regards to ongoing “mismanagement and disorganization” in the clerk’s office was e-mailed to GANT News by a court employee. It was signed by both Ammerman and Judge Paul E. Cherry.
Jail Warden Greg Collins has recently voiced his concerns about the many problems caused by the delay in receiving the sentences, parole orders and other necessary paperwork in criminal cases.
According to the judges’ letter, without the necessary documents, prisoners are not timely paroled, transfer of prisoners to state prison is delayed and taxpayers’ money is wasted on jail overcrowding and housing of prisoners in other counties.
In his own statement, Spencer refuted the judges’ allegations. He said that the judges’ “attacks” upon him and his staff aren’t being done to better the county’s court operations but instead are politically motivated to influence the outcome of an election.
Spencer has maintained the paperwork delays in the clerk’s office are, “quite frankly, not occurring.” Instead, he said there is “empirical data that shows my office has met all the standards that has been set before me by earlier administrations.”
On Monday a second letter from the judges was released to the media. Both judges have denied that their allegations against Spencer are “politically-motivated,” adding “nothing could be further from the truth.”