Lamb McErlane

Chester County DA Candidate Tom Hogan Responds

Chester County district attorney candidate Tom Hogan has responded to my email request for comment to yesterday’s Community Matters post, “Chester County DA Race is Heating Up . . . Candidates Taking the Gloves Off” — his remarks are below. 

Mr. Hogan’s comments and the earlier remarks of Mr. Carmody would indicate that the gloves in the DA race are indeed off!

Pattye –

I am aware of Mr. Carmody’s communications with the Republican committee people of Chester County as we are both working to earn their endorsement; I am certain that Mr. Carmody has seen my communications to committee people as well.   I have heard rumblings throughout the committee process and from the DA’s office about use of County resources in campaigns. 

The taxpayers of Chester County want open government and fiscal responsibility that separates the partisan political from good government.  If it is proven to be true that Mr. Carmody has utilized taxpayer-paid resources for his campaign, this is very troubling and could be detrimental to the Republican ticket as well as open Mr. Carmody to legal actions being brought against him.  For his sake and the sake of the office, I hope it is not true.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to present my positive record as a county and federal prosecutor, as well as my endorsements from the law enforcement community to the committee people and citizens of Chester County.  I believe that when they compare my record to that of my opponents, they will agree I am the best choice to serve as their District Attorney.

Thank You.

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Chester County DA Race is Heating Up . . . Candidates Taking Off the Gloves

Following November’s mid-term election, I wrote of news in the Chester County District Attorney’s office . . . District Attorney Joseph Carroll decision to run for Common Pleas Court judge seat and not seek re-election as the county DA.  At the time of the announcement, there was speculation about possible DA candidates including Tredyffrin’s solicitor Tom Hogan among others.  

Fast forward, a couple of months and the district attorney race is now in full campaign mode. Three candidates, Tom Hogan, former prosecutor and partner in Lamb McErlane law firm; Assistant District Attorney Pat Carmody and Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kelly are vying for the endorsement of Chester County Republican Committee and it appears that the candidates are taking the gloves off for this race!

The GOP is conducting interviews with the district attorney candidates at various locations throughout the county.  So far, the organization has held three straw polls and the voting of the committee members is as follows:

West Chester area: Carmody 47 votes; Hogan 24 votes; Kelly 10 votes
Tredyffrin area:  Hogan 51 votes; Carmody 16 votes; Kelly none.
Southern Chester County area: Hogan 31 votes; Carmody 30 votes; Kelly 18 votes

If my math is correct, the current vote count has Hogan leading with 106 votes to Carmody’s 93 votes and Kelly’s 28 votes.  There are two more straw polls this week leading up to the Chester County Republican Convention on February 15 that decides the candidate endorsement.

I do not typically weigh in on county politics, (there is more than enough going on with Tredyffrin and our neighboring townships to keep me busy) but I will make an exception with the district attorney race.  The Sunday Daily Local ran an article on the district attorney race that caught my attention.  In the article, the writer claims that during a GOP interview, DA candidate Hogan suggested administrative inconsistencies and the need to ‘clean up’ the district attorney office.

I was surprised by the immediate defensive reaction to Hogan’s criticism of the district attorney office by District Attorney Carroll and Assistant DA Carmody.  I believe citizens prefer placing their confidence in a district attorney, like candidate Tom Hogan, who is willing to take a stand to improve the process and to make government better.  There is nothing wrong with Hogan suggesting there is room for improvement in the DA office.  You set your goals, ever-increasing the level of standard, and then work to achieve that objective. As taxpayers, isn’t that what we should expect and what we want from our elected officials?

We know that change can be difficult for some; people get comfortable with doing things the same way they have always been done; my guess is that the Chester County District Attorney office is no different.  From my association with Tom Hogan over the last few years, his approach does not simply accept status quo but rather an approach that seeks to make government more accountable, and more efficient.  ‘Raising the bar’ by raising expectations makes for good government.

Yesterday, I received an anonymous email in regards to the district attorney race from a concerned Chester County resident.  Attached to the email were several Carmody campaign-related documents, including his campaign business card.  The individual who sent the email was concerned that candidate Carmody was using his personal cell phone number on the literature. I did no appreciate the individual’s concern until I opened the attachment containing the official telephone contact list from the DA office.  Curiously, the same cell phone number that Carmody uses on campaign materials is also his office contact number in the District Attorney office. 

So what does this mean?  Is Carmody’s cell phone personally owned or county-issued?  Regardless if the phone is county owned property or personally owned by Carmody; it is interesting that he uses the same telephone number in his campaign literature and his county office.  Would this imply that Carmody takes campaign calls at the district attorney office? Is this but a small legal campaign detail overlooked by a person running our legal system? Does this suggest that the district attorney’s office doubles as his campaign headquarters? If nothing else, Carmody’s actions make me wonder about what line is drawn between campaigning and working for the people of Chester County.  The merging of political activities with the people’s work is a fine line. 

Certainly, I lay no claim to understanding the inner-workings of the District Attorney’s office but as a response to Carroll and Carmody over Hogan’s criticism of the DA’s office, I am reminded of a line from Hamlet . . . “you doth protest too much me thinks”. Perhaps, Hogan’s criticisms were hitting a little too close to home. 

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Dust Barely Settled on Tuesday’s Election . . . Announcement on Upcoming Available Chester County District Attorney Position

In reading today’s Daily Local newspaper, I glanced at the headline that Chester County District Attorney Joseph Carroll has announced that he will not seek re-election but instead will take a run at judge of the Chester County Common Pleas Court. 

You might wonder what the connection is between Community Matters and the Chester County DA; and why my interest.  Over the last few months, I had heard rumblings that District Attorney Carroll might be moving on but my real interest was with talk of one of the possible DA candidates.

I had heard that Tredyffrin’s solicitor, Tom Hogan, a partner in the West Chester law firm Lamb McErlane (and former Assistant DA) might be on the list of those considering the District Attorney opportunity.   This rumor was confirmed in today’s Daily Local article.  When asked by the reporter about the DA possibility, Tom Hogan’s response — “At this point, the (midterm) elections have just finished. At some point I’ll sit down and talk with my family, and talk with law enforcement (groups) and make a decision.”

In addition to Tom Hogan, other possible candidates being discussed are First Assistant DA Patrick Carmody, Former Chief DA Susan DiGiacomo, Deputy DA Stephen Kelly and Assistant DA Norman Pine.  I do understand the discussion is early in the process and names can come and go on the ‘list’.

I have known Tom for several years and he is truly one of the good guys.  In addition to his service to our township, Tom and his wife Victoria have continued to be very supportive of historic preservation and Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.  Tom has generously served as a sponsor of many Trust activities including our Annual Historic House Tour and our annual In the Mood fundraiser. 

Obviously, if Tom decided on the District Attorney direction, it would be a loss to our township but the residents of Chester County would be the winners.  For what it is worth, I will state that if Tom Hogan decides to run for Chester County District Attorney he has my complete support! 

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Attorney-Client Privilege . . . Understanding the Relationship Between Elected Officials & Township Solicitor. . . Where Does that Leave the Residents?

I know that many residents in the audience at the February 8 Board of Supervisors Meeting were confused and frustrated when they would pose specific questions to our elected officials and receive no response.  The supervisors would turn to the Township Solicitor Tom Hogan for an opinion on a legal question and he would say that he could not answer, invoking attorney-client privilege.  In conversation with residents since the meeting, there has been much discussion on the attorney-client privilege shared between Mr. Hogan and the supervisors.  I know Tom Hogan personally; he’s one of the good guys and I need to believe that he would have given the residents his opinion (if permitted).  But the fact remains that the public has legal questions in regards to St. Davids Golf Club, the return of the escrow, precedent set by the vote, ongoing liability to the township and its residents, etc. 

If we cannot receive answers from our elected officials or township solicitor, where do we take our unanswered questions? Do community members have to hire their own attorney to receive answers?

I was greatly interested to received the following information from a reader, JudgeNJury on the subject of attorney-client privilege. I do not know the identity of this reader, but I am guessing that he/she could be a municipal attorney. An interesting read.

JudgeNJury 2010/02/10 wrote:

Under an opinion issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Jan. 29, it is far from clear that Hogan’s invocation of attorney-client privilege is correct. A link to a detailed article discussing the case follows, but this quote from the article is the main point: “The court issued a per curiam order in Nationwide v. Fleming Friday, upholding a Superior Court ruling that attorney-client privilege only applies to information given to the attorney by the client, not the other way around.”

(http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202441905939&Pa_High_Court_Justices_Cant_Agree_on_AttorneyClient_Privilege_Dispute).

In other words, there is a good argument to be made that the Supervisors can invoke the privilege to refuse to answer questions about what they told Hogan, but Hogan cannot invoke the privilege to refuse to answer questions about what he told the Supervisors. Personally, I think the court’s decision is absurd. But the law is the law.

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