My name is Erich Spessard, and I’m running for judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Clarion County. I may not have been born and raised in Clarion, but this area has become my adopted home. For those of you that don’t know me, I want to take this opportunity to tell you more about who I am and where I came from.
My father is an Air Force veteran, and our family moved a fair amount during the course of his career. I was born in Germany while my parents were stationed there, and after a few more moves we eventually settled in Indianapolis. After my father served seventeen years in the Air Force, he retired and started working nightshift at an aircraft engine manufacturer while my mother worked at a local supermarket. While in high school, my family moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where they continue to reside today.
During high school I started looking for colleges and wanted to find something that felt like home. I wanted to find a safe, welcoming community, and a college that was both accredited and affordable for a working-class family. I found that place in Clarion. I graduated from Clarion University, summa cum laude, with a major in Political Science and minor in History. I then attended William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia. During my summers, I worked as an intern with the Clarion County Public Defender Office, and as the lead research assistant for a professor at law school.
After graduating from William and Mary Law School, I accepted a position with the Allegheny County Public Defender Office. Then, in 2013, I found out that Clarion County was looking for a new Chief Public Defender. I applied and accepted the position—making me one of the youngest Chief Public Defenders in the state. I poured myself into the work. I overhauled the application process—ensuring that only people that were truly indigent would receive free representation. This improved representation by not using critical time for clients that were actually ineligible, but also saving taxpayers money by ensuring that precious resources were not diverted to cases they should not be.
While in Clarion, I met my wife, Miranda, at the Loomis bar, and the rest is history. We currently reside in Clarion along with our two dogs, Storm and Nebula. We’ve always said that Clarion is the place that we want to raise a family, which we will be doing soon as we are currently expecting our first child.
My wife and I both believe in giving back to the community that has become our home for nearly a decade. I’m currently the President of the board of the United Way of Clarion County, I am on the executive board of the Rotary Club of Clarion County, the board of the ARC of Clarion and Venango Counties, and the Clarion Hospital Health Services Board. Through my wife, I’ve also been able to be involved with the Clarion Area Young Professionals and the Friends of the Clarion Library.
I’ve now been Chief Public Defender for over 5 years. I’ve personally handled over 1,000 cases. I’m one of the youngest attorneys to ever complete the case requirements for death penalty cases. I work as hard as I can to make sure that each client receives the care and attention they need, while also dutifully complying with my ethical obligations to defend each client’s constitutional rights in Clarion County.
I love my job, but I know that with my work ethic, leadership, compassion, and integrity, I can help lead the Clarion judicial system to a better and brighter future as Court of Common Pleas Judge.
Chief Public Defender of Clarion County, 2013-2019
Assistant Public Defender, Allegheny County, 2013
Clarion County Public Defender Fellowship, 2012-2013
Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General Internship, 2007
Prior Judicial Related Experience:
Clarion County Criminal Justice Advisory Board, 2013-2019
Clarion County Treatment Court Team, 2013-2019
Clarion County Behavioral Health Court Team, 2018-2019
Arbitrator, 2014, 2016, 2017
Clarion University, summa cum laude, B.A., Political Science, 2005-2009,
William and Mary Law School, J.D., 2009-2012
Board President, United Way of Clarion County
Board of Directors, Rotary Club of Clarion County
Board of Directors, ARC of Clarion and Venango Counties
Board of Directors, Clarion Hospital Health Services