CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County Jail Warden Greg Collins has addressed a backlog in criminal paperwork in a letter to Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts Brian Spencer.
Collins’ letter was dated July 20 and was released to members of the local media. In his letter, Collins acknowledged receiving Spencer’s request for certain information in regards to discussion of the backlog at a recent prison board meeting.
“The normal professional means of obtaining information from me would have been a simple request by letter or e-mail …. through normal office to office channels,” Collins wrote.
“Instead, you have chosen to provide your letter to me and to the media, which clearly is an attempt to draw me into your public discussion of your office’s failings.
“There are no inefficiencies in the jail operations as referred to in your letter. I will not engage in a public discussion of the matter, as all I did was ask questions at prison board as to the status of a matter that had been previously discussed.”
Collins said he’s been employed in administrative positions at the jail for 21 years, and he’s never before experienced the issues that have been occurring in regards to the receipt from the clerk of timely and properly filed orders and documents.
According to Collins’ letter, Spencer’s request for information was focused primarily on state sentences, and his questions at prison board were in regards to orders and other documents that span across the scope of the jail’s operations.
For example, he said orders from the June 12 ARD Court and Special Sentencing Court haven’t been docketed and scanned yet.
“I am simply trying to perform my job as directed by the prison board in order to [ensure] the smooth and orderly handling of the directives and orders of President Judge [Fredric] Ammerman and Judge [Paul] Cherry.”
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 Cherry.
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.”
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.”
Spencer continued to refute the allegations in a statement he released Tuesday. He said he’s been “open and willing” to work with the judges – specifically Ammerman – to resolve any issues.
Spencer said he’s made numerous requests of the judge to “sit down and discuss the matters claimed to be problems,” and not once has the judge been willing to have such a meeting.
Spencer again went on to accuse Ammerman of “airing” complaints about him and the clerk’s office through the media to try to influence the upcoming prothonotary election with his “political clout.”