County hires attorney to defend against inmate lawsuit

CLARION -- Clarion County Commissioners June 11 approved an agreement with attorney Marie Milie Jones of JonesPassodelis, PLLC of Pittsburgh to defend Clarion County in two inmate lawsuits.

Both lawsuits involve former inmate Terrell D. Fields of Arnold who has filed federal lawsuit complaints alleging his Eighth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights were violated by staff at the Clarion County Jail.

Fields was being held at the county jail on charges of defiant trespass and public drunkenness.

A jury found Fields not guilty of those charges at a trial in April. Fields filed both lawsuits before the trial and is acting as his own attorney.

According to court records, Fields remains in custody, facing rape charges in Westmoreland County.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania usually assigns a lawyer to cases when a county is sued. CCAP insurance does not cover cases requesting injunctive relief therefore commissioners have to hire a lawyer directly.

The first case is seeking monetary damages of $25,000 and "reconstruction of institutional procedure."

The second case is seeking $15,000 in pain and suffering and "they seek to have the court instruct the County to revise its policy for use of the law library," stated Clarion County Solicitor Christopher P. Gabriel in an email with the CLARION NEWS.

Jones is a founding partner of JonesPassodelis, focusing her practice on helping businesses and public entities in the employment and civil rights fields, counseling clients in risk management principles and handling litigation in federal and state court.

The agreement with Clarion County approves the fee structure for services with Jones as follows:

4Partners, $240 an hour

4Senior associates, $215 an hour

4Associates, $200 an hour

4Law clerks, $135 an hour; and

4Legal assistants, $65 an hour

County Commissioners would not comment on the cases beyond what information is publicly available from the court.

According to court documents Fields filed through the United States District Court in Pittsburgh, "Kitchen staff gave me (Fields) a dinner tray that contained a human hair stran (sic) on March 17, 2019, at 5:15 p.m. After notifying prison staff of the incident there were no efforts to rectify or accommodate me of the contaminated tray.

"I went 20 hours without eating a full and properly balanced meal."

Fields said two corrections officers refused to help him.

Fields also alleges a corrections officer denied him access to a shower on March 18.

"I was scheduled for jury selection at the Court of Common Pleas of Clarion County that morning," alleges Fields. "As I pleaded that is my right to personal hygiene."

Fields alleges he was forced to appear in court "foul odored and uncleanly."

Also in the lawsuit complaint, Fields alleges he was not allowed to shave before a March 8 court appearance.

"I was left no other option (than) to appear in court ungroomed and unshaven," alleges Fields.

Fields said his complaint to jail staff was dismissed as "frivolous" and was dismissed.

Finally, Fields alleges his "legal mail" was opened by jail staff without him being present.

Fields wrote in his lawsuit complaint he filed a grievance in that matter and jail officials "admitted they were in violation."

Fields alleges jail staff has retaliated against him for protesting the violation of his constitutional rights.

Airport fly-in

The Clarion County Airport will be hosting a Cruise for the Cure Fly-In event June 29 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This is a free admission, family event to benefit the Clarion Cancer Center patient care and sunshine fund.

The "Spirit of Freedom" C-54, "Luck of the Irish" Douglas C-47B Skytrain and "Thunderpig" Fairchild C-123K planes will be present for the event.

For Knight Cruisers, the first 100 cars to cruise in will receive a dash plaque.

This event is rain or shine with helicopter rides, airplane rides, Legends band, games for kids, a Chinese auction, 50-50 and food vendors.

In other news

4A change in the price of certified property record cards was approved to increase to $1 per page. Regular copy fees are to remain at 50 cents per page.

4A contract on behalf of Children and Youth Services was approved with Alternative Living Solutions for transitional living services at a cost of $198 per day with a county match of 20 percent.

4A request by Pennsylvania One Call was approved to waive $2,500 in fees for Geographic Information System (GIS) parcel information in the county.

PA One Call System is a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation created to protect the underground facilities before anyone begins to disturb the earth.

Personnel

4Tyler Lencer in Public Safety was promoted from trainee to certified telecommunicator effective May 26 at a salary of $11.96 per hour.

4Jessica Walters in Corrections was promoted into the position of full-time corrections officer effective June 1 at a salary of $13.59 per hour.

4Mary Crawford in Corrections was promoted to the position of temporary full-time corrections officer effective June 1 at a salary of $13.59 an hour.

4Lindsey Deibler in Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities (MH/DD) was reclassified into the vacant position of temporary working out of class county MH/DD administrator 1 effective June 10 with a $250 per week stipend and a normal salary of $38,873.12.

4The separation of employment with Melissa Obenrader in Children and Youth Services was accepted effective May 31.