Superior Court Ruling Doesn’t Affect Venango County

| May 17, 2018

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – While a Superior Court ruling last week in a case involving a Clarion County woman has led to the release of 10 inmates from the Clarion County Jail, it appears that Venango County is in compliance with state law.

In Thompson vs. Thompson, Clarion County resident Ashley Thompson successfully argued to the Superior Court that her six-month jail term for falling behind on her monthly child-support payment as part of an indefinitely suspended sentence handed down to her by a Clarion County judge was illegal.

And while the issue appeared to be widespread in Clarion County, according to Thompson’s lawyer John P. (Jack) Troese of Clarion, who told The The Legal Intelligencer after the ruling was handed down that he believes the kind of agreement Thompson entered into – an agreement which imposed a suspended sentence for civil contempt – was “widespread” in Clarion County, it was not an issue in Venango County where no inmates needed to be released according to a representative in the county’s court administration office.

After checking with the Chief Clerk, that representative said that no one from Venango County was released under the ruling.

The same could be said in Jefferson County where Josh Dean of the county’s Domestic Relation Office said no one had to be released from the Jefferson County jail either.

“The judge hasn’t released anyone in Jefferson County as far as I know,” Dean said. “I don’t think we had anyone in jail under suspended sentences. Everyone in their has had a purge. We believe that we are in compliance, but I have sent the ruling to the judge to make sure.”

A purge is basically an amount that needs to be paid by someone who is capable of paying it and when they pay it they can be released. They also have the ability to appeal the amount to the Superior Court.

The fact there were no inmates in either Venango County nor Jefferson County released didn’t surprise Troese, who said the Clarion County situation is “abnormal” across the state.

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