CLEARFIELD – Prothonotary Brian Spencer has filed an appeal to a judge’s order setting time frames for the completion of criminal court paperwork.
On July 25 an administrative order was issued by Judges Fredric J. Ammerman and Paul E. Cherry outlining specific time periods required for the completion of court paperwork, such as bench warrants and sentencing orders.
This was done, according to the order, because of “deficiencies and unacceptable backlog in the filing, docketing, scanning and processing of order and documents within the clerk of courts office.”
There has been an ongoing problem between the judges and Spencer with various statements being made to the media from both sides.
Spencer filed his notice of appeal on Aug. 24 asking the court to reconsider and withdraw this order.
According to court paperwork, he is claiming that there was no hearing held on this matter, that the order is not based on any facts presented to the court and that the order is “burdensome and unattainable without additional resources being allocated to the office.”
He also filed a motion to stay any action on the order pending the appeal.
Court Administrator F. Cortez “Chip” Bell III issued a statement regarding this appeal late Wednesday afternoon.
In it Bell details how the backlog began in February after Spencer fired an employee who had processed most of the criminal documents.
The judges tried to work with Spencer, but “Mr. Spencer refused, then blamed his office’s short comings on the judges, court administrator and the court reporters. Mr. Spencer’s claims were nonsense,” Bell said in the statement.
“Mr. Spencer is now using taxpayer’s money to pay his attorney to appeal the judges’ administrative order to the Commonwealth Court, apparently so that Mr. Spencer doesn’t have to do his job.
“We don’t know how much this will cost in filing fees, legal expense, mileage and other costs and how much time will be wasted by all involved,” Bell said.
Bell pointed out that the employee who was fired has fired a lawsuit against the county for wrongful termination. This employee had worked in the office for close to 30 years.
“As Judges Ammerman and Cherry cannot hear the case, the Supreme Court has been asked to provide an out-of-county senior judge to hear it. This will be at a cost of $553 per day to taxpayers for the judge, with this not including the county’s legal fees and expenses.
“If the ex-employee wins the case, any monies will be paid to her by the taxpayers and not from Brian Spencer.”
Bell goes on to say that Spencer has the current clerk employees working extra time as they try to process the paperwork. Prior to the firing in February, this amount of overtime was not necessary.
“This is not withstanding the fact that Mr. Spencer, himself, rarely helps with the work.”
In the employee’s lawsuit, she claims Spencer hired a friend as the deputy prothonotary and clerk of court who does “little or no work.”
Bell ended his statement with “this situation just seems to be getting progressively worse and the court continues to be very dissatisfied with Mr. Spencer’s actions and lack of cooperation.”
In previous statements, Spencer has claimed the “attacks upon me and my staff are not done in the spirit of bettering the efficiency or effectiveness of the courthouse operation, but rather are partisan political attacks aimed at influencing the outcome of an election.”
Spencer’s position is up for re-election in November.