CLEARFIELD – Both Clearfield County judges are dismissing the belief that their allegations against Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts Brian Spencer are politically motivated.
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 President Judge Fredric J. 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 another letter from the judges was released to the press. Both judges have denied that their allegations against Spencer are “politically-motivated,” adding “nothing could be further from the truth.”
According to the judges, the problems in the clerk’s office began in February when Spencer, for no legitimate reason, fired the clerk employee who processed a large percentage of the criminal documents.
“This employee had 28 years of experience, and had worked for three prior prothonotaries.” Additionally, their replacement didn’t have any experience whatsoever within a criminal system, the judges wrote.
Unfortunately once the long-time employee was gone, the judges said it caused disorganization and a paperwork backlog in the clerk’s office because Spencer didn’t understand the actual duties of that particular employee.
According to the judges, the internal problems in the clerk’s office are being discussed now because they are happening now and not because it’s an election year.
“The court has attempted since February to work behind the scenes with Mr. Spencer to try to solve these issues, just as with any other county office holder, regardless of political party,” the judges wrote.
“However, Mr. Spencer has refused to work with the court and court administration, instead inexplicably blaming us for causing the problems.”
The judges indicated they have a combined 36 years of judicial experience, and that F. Cortez “Chip” Bell III, the court administrator, is also a lawyer with 39 years of criminal, civil and administrative experience.
“We know how to operate an effective and efficient court system,” the judges wrote in their letter. “We are not in any way involved in politics, which has no place in the courts. The judges do not care what the political persuasion is of any elected official.
“All we want are elected officials who will work with us. The court, over many years, has had a very good working relationship with all other county offices and has always been able to work and problem solve together. But [it has] not with Mr. Spencer.”
In the most recent letter, Ammerman and Cherry also made allegations about Spencer causing problems at civil and criminal jury selections. The judges said he wouldn’t discuss matters with them and the court administration, and he was improperly excusing jurors from service.
During jury selections, the judges said Spencer would try to change the process to suit himself, even though he lacked an understanding of the legal system.
The judges discussed this problem with Spencer, but when nothing changed, they said he was removed permanently from the jury selection process in early 2015.