Clearfield County District Attorney Candidate: Warren B. Mikesell II

Warren B. Mikesell II, Esq. (Provided photo)

1. Provide a brief professional and personal background:

I joined the firm of Mikesell and Mikesell with my father, Donald R. Mikesell, in 1991 after being admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

I was born the second son of Donald R. Mikesell (originally from Mahaffey) and Ann E. (Blackburn) Mikesell (originally from Curwensville) and was raised in Clearfield with my five siblings.

After graduating from the Clearfield Senior High School in 1977, I joined and served in the U.S. Navy from September of 1977 until January of 1985 (seven years and four months of active duty service).

After the U.S. Navy, I immediately enrolled in Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., where I completed my undergraduate degrees in 1988–with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and economics.

I then attended The Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pa., and graduated therefrom in 1991 with a Juris Doctorate degree.

While in law school, I served as a Legislative Legal Intern for the Honorable Senator Robert Jubelirer, President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate from May of 1989 to June of 1991.

My duties as a Legislative Legal Intern included drafting legislation, researching legal issues affecting proposed legislative statutes, laws and regulations and attending Senate and House hearings on various legal issues.

My legal practice includes over 27 years of working as a general practitioner in various fields of law as well as both an Assistant District Attorney (currently serving over 15 years as an ADA) and Assistant Public Defender.

Clients have been provided legal services in various areas including, but not limited to: Estate Planning, Wills, Estates (Probate), Trusts,  Personal Injury, Wrongful Death,  Divorce, Custody, Family Law, Adoption,  Real Estate (deed transfers, boundary disputes, residential/commercial leases), Title Searches,  Mortgages & Refinance Loans and Coal, Oil and Gas Leases.

I have been married to Kimberly L. (Witters) Mikesell since 2001.  Kim is the daughter of Bruce K. Witters and Patricia L. Witters (both deceased).  Kim worked for J.C. Penney’s for 30 years before retiring in 2011.   Upon retirement from J.C. Penney’s, she then assumed the duties of legal secretary at my law firm.

I have three children to a prior marriage: namely Warren B. Mikesell III (of Clearfield), Breann K. Mikesell Kipple and her husband, Adam Kipple (of Myrtle Beach, S.C.) and Michael Thomas Mikesell (deceased).

We have three wonderful and cherished grandchildren namely: Willoe Ann Mikesell (of Clearfield), Jackson Alan Kipple and James Andrew Kipple (both of Myrtle Beach, S.C.).

I am a member of the Clearfield Masonic Lodge No. 314.  I serve as the solicitor for the P.B. Zentmyer Trust–a charitable trust established for the benefit of children in need of medical treatment for orthopedic type problems.

I also serve as a director on the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation–a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation serving the charitable needs of Clearfield County by investing funds of donors for the benefit of Clearfield County.

All of the directors of the CCCF donate their time and experience for the benefit of the charitable organization.  They do not accept a fee or salary.

Memberships also include: Clearfield Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Mosquito Creek Sportsman’s Association, American Legion Post No. 6 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1785.

My wife and I are members of the Community Baptist Church of Curwensville.  I have a strong belief in God and, as such, my faith is and will always be a controlling factor in my life’s decisions.

2. Why did you choose to run for the office of Clearfield County District Attorney?

As a man of faith, I would be remiss if I did not say that God is and has always been a factor in decisions I have made regarding my life, including decisions regarding my profession.

The decision to run for District Attorney is no different. I had prayed about this matter and was convicted to run this race.  Having served this community as an Assistant District Attorney for more than a decade, I work directly with the District Attorney of the county as well as the various assistants.

One thing my legal career has taught me is that the position as the District Attorney requires a degree of experience necessary to do the job.

My opponent on the Republican side, Ryan Sayers, does not have the experience level necessary to fill the position.  He has only participated in one criminal jury trial in his little over six-year career–that case, I believe, ended in a hung jury.

He has participated in less than 200 preliminary hearing cases that have run their course through the court system to sentencing.

During my career as either an Assistant District Attorney or as an Assistant Public Defender, I have handled thousands of cases at various stages of a criminal case.

On average, the office of Clearfield County District Attorney handles between 30 and 50 cases weekly.  As an assistant, I read and prepare for approximately half of those cases weekly.

In two-months’ time, I have been involved with more cases than my Republican opponent, Ryan Sayers, has dealt with in a six-year career.

Our office handled five murder cases in the past year.  Two of those cases are still on the books and are awaiting trial.

I do not believe a young attorney who has only participated in one criminal jury trial is ready to handle the type of cases the office will be required to prosecute.  This position requires experience.

During my 27-year legal career, I have served as an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) for over 17 years, having served as a full-time Assistant District Attorney under the then District Attorney and now Honorable Fredric J. Ammerman, while maintaining my private practice with my father, Donald R. Mikesell, on nights and weekends; then under  District Attorney and now the Honorable Paul E. Cherry as a part-time assistant; and currently as a part-time Assistant District Attorney under William A. Shaw Jr.

Ten years of my practice has been as a private Defense Attorney and or Assistant Public Defender.

Working directly in the legal system with the District Attorney’s Office has allowed me to see how and what the Office of District Attorney does and how the decisions of the office affect our local community.

I want to serve the people and voters of this community and use my expertise and experience to continue the continuity of experience and performance in the office.

I believe my 27 years of legal knowledge and experience as both an Assistant District Attorney as well as an Assistant Public Defender can also benefit all of the members of this community.

3. How many cases have you tried?

Legal experience:

I have over 27 years as a practicing attorney in both Criminal and Civil law.

Criminal Law: 

  • I have a total of over 17 years in the DA’s office.
  • I also have been a private Defense Attorney and part-time Assistant Public Defender for 10 years.
  • My average case load of preliminary hearings annually is between 250 and 500 cases per year.
  • So far as criminal jury trials, I average at least six per year.

Over past 27 years, I have handled:

  • over 6,000 criminal cases
  • over 100 jury trials.

Twenty-seven years of practicing law in the legal field more than qualifies me for this position.

Serving for 17 years as an Assistant District Attorney and 10 years as either a private Defense Attorney and or Assistant Public Defender on a weekly basis has given me the practical knowledge and experience to move to the next level and run the office of District Attorney.

I handle on average at least 250 preliminary hearings in criminal matters as an Assistant District Attorney every year.

Over my 27-year career, I have handled over 6,000 cases. When I say I have handled over 6,000 cases in my career, it means I have personally read each criminal complaint and supporting affidavit of probable cause that was filed in the appropriate Magisterial District and have represented the office in reaching a conclusion of the case.

4. What is the most challenging case you tried and how did you navigate through it?

The most challenging case I personally was involved in and was the prosecuting attorney for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would have to have been the attempted escape case from the Houtzdale State Prison.

The case involved dealing with key witnesses who were, themselves, incarcerated and really did not want to cooperate with the Commonwealth in the prosecution of a two-time convicted murder defendant who was serving two life sentences in Houtzdale.

The biggest challenge was navigating through the potential witnesses of the defendant who, also, were inmates in the prison at the time of the attempted escape.

One potential witness was classified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections as such that he would not be transported anywhere without a six-member swat team escort due to potential escape issues with that witness.

As the prosecutor for the Commonwealth, I was successful in navigating through the potential problems with this witness by conducting testimony before the jury through closed circuit TV.  Ultimately, a conviction was obtained.

5. If elected, what would be your top priority as Clearfield County District Attorney?

Dealing with the drug epidemic in our community would be my top priority.  I recognize that drugs are a driving force in many of the crimes that occur throughout our community.

They manifest themselves in increased crime in areas such as burglary, robbery, criminal trespass, thefts, assaults, domestic violence, etc.

Working to fight the drug problem in Clearfield County means working to fight crime in general in every possible area and level.

Drug dealers and users need to know that crimes involving drugs will be prosecuted.

Continuing to assist victims of drug crimes, whether directly or indirectly as a result of drugs, would also be paramount.  Most people may not think that crimes such as retail theft may have its origin in drugs.

Many drug addicts of our community steal items from our local retail stores and businesses.  They then either sell or trade these items they steal to support their drug habits.

The costs of these thefts impact the prices of items in our stores.  We, the paying public, pay for this.  Our local Wal-Mart here in Clearfield has had losses in excess of $500,000 in one business year.

Prosecuting crimes, especially those that have a tie to drugs, will be important to aid in stemming the tide of drugs in our community.

Defeating drugs in Clearfield County will require a multi-faceted approach to hit drugs in every way and manner they impact our community.

My opponent wants to send dealers of hard drugs to “hard” time in state prison.  That is only one of the areas in which the office has and will continue to fight the problem of drugs.

Understanding why drugs are in our community in the first place is necessary.  Increased law enforcement training and support, education and looking for ways to see that drug users who really want help in kicking their habit to get real help are all necessary.

We need to look for programs that are working in other jurisdictions and see what can be done to start programs that work.

6. What are the greatest challenges facing the District Attorney’s Office? If elected, how would you overcome them?

See response to Question 5 above.  The key, I believe, is education and enforcement.  Education of our youth needs to be a priority.

As the District Attorney, I would like to schedule meetings with youth groups and schools to educate the youth as to what they can expect to happen if arrested as a result of getting involved in not only illegal drugs, but also legal drugs that are not used or ingested as prescribed.

Also, as a community, the community needs to support all of our schools in extracurricular activities for our youth.  It has been proven time and time again that our youth that get involved in extra-curricular activities (whether sports, band, clubs etc.) are less likely to get involved in drugs and illegal activity.

We also need to continue to support our police departments here in Clearfield County.  If our police departments need new equipment and training to assist in the detection and prosecution of illegal drugs, then we need to find the financial resources to assist where possible.

They need all the necessary tools, equipment and training to be successful in the continued eradication of drugs in our community.

7. How can the District Attorney play a role in addressing the Opioid Crisis?

As stated before, education and enforcement should be the primary concern for the Office of the District Attorney of Clearfield County.  The Opioid Crisis is real.

It plays out in the lives of people and businesses of Clearfield County every day.  We need to take the needs of the victims into account; we need to continue to support of the law enforcement community and prosecute the offenders.

Keeping in mind, often times that victims are often family members of alleged perpetrators. This makes prosecution even more difficult.  The victim wants to be made whole, but they do not want to see their loved one prosecuted.

The major problem in this crisis is that merely removing a street level dealer does only that–remove “a” dealer.  The problem is a new dealer takes his or her place almost immediately.

Each time an arrest is made, the defendants get smarter, making prosecution more and more difficult.  This is a continuing problem.

The solution is one of continued prosecution. As the drug users and dealers get educated, the Office of the District Attorney together with law enforcement have to stay one step ahead.

This is like trying to shoot at a moving target.  Nonetheless, it must be done for the citizens and businesses of Clearfield County.

The office would continue to work with the victims of crime (whether they are individuals or businesses) to assist them where it is legally possible.

The Clearfield County civil suit against the pharmaceutical company needs to be supported as a community.

Pharmaceutical companies brought these drugs into our community legally.  They need to be wisely dispensed and used by patients.

Recently, I was personally involved with a case involving a young man who had criminal charges against him. In speaking to the court and arresting officer, he revealed he had recently had a serious accident and the doctor had prescribed an opioid pain killer.

He refused the same and wanted to take ibuprofen instead, having told the doctor he did not want to get hooked on the prescribed opioid drug.  Our community needs more people like this to take an active role in the treatment of injuries.

I realize there are times when the big-time pain killers are the only ones that will take the pain away.  Use needs to be monitored.  Abuse needs to be stopped.

8. In what ways can a District Attorney positively impact such things as addiction and mental illnesses through the cases they are prosecuting?

The District Attorney’s Office can continue to work with the law enforcement community and victims of crime that are a result of drug crime and drug activity as well as crimes stemming or having their origin in mental health.

This can improve relations between the community and the actors and players in crime.  As District Attorney, I would continue to actively prosecute drug crimes as well as crimes that are related thereto to protect the citizens and businesses of Clearfield County.

Mental illness issues need to be addressed when it is a factor in the commission of a crime or when it involves the victim of a crime.

Too often, a person who suffers from a mental health issue becomes an easy target for criminal activity.  When discovered, all tools and resources available to the office must be used to protect victims of crimes.

These individuals should not be allowed to slip between the cracks.  Continued support of all agencies and counselors in this area needs to be accomplished.

9. What specific efforts can the District Attorney make to interrupt the cycle of crime and address trauma in communities?

As stated earlier, I have been involved in criminal law for almost my entire 27-year legal career.  Most of this has been as an Assistant District Attorney.

One thing I have noticed as I read and prepare for upcoming cases on a weekly basis is that we are often dealing with multiple generations of families.

Personally, I have prosecuted the parent, then their child and now am seeing grandchildren’s names appear in criminal complaints.

This is extremely disturbing because it does directly relate to this question and reflects that often times crime becomes cyclical.

This is most frequently manifested in crimes involving domestic violence as well as drugs.  As for crimes of domestic violence, the current victim needs to know that the Office of the District Attorney will always support the victims of crime.

Most of the time our victims are females–of all ages.  Defendants often learn certain behaviors from older family members.

They need to know that physical contact/force is never acceptable.  As long as our victim is willing to proceed with the prosecution of the crime, we will move forward accordingly.

Over time the continued message that physical attacks are not acceptable and violators will be prosecuted will aid in breaking the cycle of these types of crime.

Education can also play a part in this area. There is a need for educational programs that could reach the youth.

It would be nice to see the development of a program that can be taught in the school systems of this area that give the youth an idea of how the criminal justice system works and how that can impact them in their futures.

Any such program should address the ever-present abuse that victims (mostly women) face from their attackers–who are, more times than not, a loved one, family member or intimate partner.

I have seen and heard of the abuse that goes on within our community.  I have seen the photographs of the victims.  The bruises they wear on their faces and bodies are not badges of honor.

They did not deserve to go through not only the physical pain, but also the emotional pain that lingers much longer than the bruise itself.

Our youth (and adults) need to be aware that beating a person is not acceptable in a civilized society and that there are consequences for doing the same–but more importantly, that the recipient of the abuse did not deserve it and that there are agencies and people out in our community willing to assist.

All victims need to do is reach out.  First, they need to know there is someone out there to reach out to.  As a District Attorney, I would like to have the opportunity to speak with our youth of this community.

My hope and prayer would be that, through education, we can continue to break the cycle of abuse before it starts, and if it should occur, that victims need to know they can come forward and they will not be shamed nor looked down upon for what they have been put through.

They will be lifted up and assisted.  The abuser will be prosecuted to the fullest of the law.

10. What do you think makes you the better candidate for Clearfield County District Attorney?

Clearly, I would like the voters of Clearfield County to consider the qualifications and experience of the candidates.

Voters should consider:  what if it is me, my spouse, my child or grandchild that somehow finds themselves a victim of a crime that will be prosecuted by the office of the District Attorney.

Who do I want to be responsible for prosecution of the case?  Do I want someone “who is qualified” or do I want the “most qualified” person making the decision?

Do I want somebody who has a minimum amount of experience in the field of expertise that a District Attorney will be utilizing to prosecute a case?

Do I want somebody who has only prosecuted one criminal case in his six- year career, or do I want somebody that has over 27 years of experience practicing law–over 17 years as a prosecutor and 10 as a Public Defender?

Do I want somebody that has read, analyzed and processed over 6,000 cases on both the defense and prosecution side of a criminal case?  Do I want somebody who has conducted and prosecuted over 100 jury trials?

I trust that the voters of Clearfield County would base their vote on the candidate who can do the best job.  The candidate who is the most qualified and most experienced candidate.

I, Warren B. Mikesell II, believe I am the MOST qualified and the MOST experienced Republican candidate for District Attorney.

I will use my years of experience and knowledge as a U.S. Navy veteran, as a Legal Intern in the Senate of Pennsylvania, as an Assistant District Attorney, as an Assistant Public Defender and private Defense Attorney, my experience as a 27-year practicing attorney in Criminal Law and most importantly my belief and faith in God in making all decisions that come before me as District Attorney.

In law school, I had a contracts professor who often told our class that to be the best attorney possible we needed to know our opponent’s case better than our own.  I have always adopted this philosophy in analyzing criminal cases.

For me, this has become extremely easy since I have worked multiple years as both a prosecutor and defense attorney (17 years and 10 years, respectively).

No matter what side of a case I was/am on, I was/am always able to anticipate where my opponent was or will be going to attack my case.

As a District Attorney, I know both sides of a criminal case–because I have done both jobs.  I will use my experience and expertise to analyze the facts and prosecute each case appropriately.

Since I have been a prosecutor 17 years of my legal career, I know the burden for every case that would come before me.  It is an easy choice.

Do not vote for the candidate who is a young lawyer who has one criminal trial under his belt.  I have conducted over 100 criminal jury trials in my career.

Vote Warren B. Mikesell II for District Attorney – Republican Candidate.

Clearfield County District Attorney Candidate: William A. Shaw Jr.
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