CLEARFIELD – A former employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Clearfield County regarding her firing by Prothonotary Brian Spencer.
In February, Spencer fired Linda Luce, who had worked in the Clerk of Courts office for 28 years, according to a previous statement from Judges Fredric J. Ammerman and Paul E. Cherry. This statement issued in July explained a backlog in processing court paperwork began after Luce’s termination.
In Luce’s lawsuit, she states that Spencer hired his friend, Stephen Marshall, as the deputy prothonotary and clerk of courts after he took over the position in January of 2014.
“Although Stephen Marshall was receiving a paycheck and benefits to perform his duties as an employee of the prothonotary & clerk of courts office, Stephen Marshall performed little or no work,” according to the paperwork.
Luce reportedly complained about this to Spencer; F. Cortez Bell III, the court administrator; Marianne Sankey of human resources; and the secretaries of both county judges. After this, she was fired.
The lawsuit states that her firing was in violation of the “Whistleblower Law.” The county is liable to her for “loss of past and future income and benefits” and “damages for emotional distress.” She is asking for an “amount in excess of $20,000.”
This is the latest strike against Spencer, who is running for re-election this year. Previous statements from the judges explained that he is uncooperative and that paperwork is not being filed in a timely manner.
“Over the last few months, Judges Cherry and Ammerman have written letters to Brian Spencer pointing out the many difficulties in the clerk’s office and the negative effect on the criminal system, public and taxpayers. Mr. Spencer has been asked to provide a written plan to the court as to how he proposes to fix the problems and eliminate the backlog. Mr. Spencer has refused to provide his proposals to remedy the backlog and instead has claimed all the problems have been caused by the judges, court administrator’s office and court reporters,” according to the statement.
Spencer responded with his own statement: “It is my opinion that these attacks upon me and my staff are not done in the spirit of bettering the efficiency or effectiveness of the courthouse operations, but rather are partisan political attacks aimed at influencing the outcome of an election.”
He added that he has an “open door” policy and is willing to listen to any input on how he can make the system better.
Spencer also released a letter to the media that he wrote to Warden Gregory D. Collins of the Clearfield County Jail asking for information or specific problems with his office.
Collins then responded with his own letter stating that in his 21 years at the jail, he had never “before experienced the problems we have been having in regard to the receipt from the clerk of timely and properly filed orders and documents.”
Both judges signed a court order July 25 establishing timelines for various types of court paperwork. If the deadlines are not met, Spencer could be held in contempt of court.