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ARD: Giving People a Second Chance After a First DUI

An arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs can be one the most humiliating and scary moments of a person’s life. I have advised plenty of clients who thought that as a result of a DUI they would be sent to prison, lose their job, or have their children taken away. While it is true that in Pennsylvania penalties for certain DUI offenses can be harsh, such as when someone causes an accident when driving drunk or is a repeat offender, for the person without any prior DUI convictions, there exists a program that can provide him/her a second chance at a criminal record-free life after a first DUI arrest. It is called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.

Commonly referred to as ARD, the program was designed to divert first-time offenders from the  overcrowded penal system and to speed up the court process for one of Pennsylvania’s most common criminal offenses. With the rate of recidivism for DUI offenders going through the roof in the 1980’s, the idea was that instead of clogging up the prisons with drunks and drug addicts, the judicial system could attempt to address the real problem by treating an offender’s addiction and/or poor decision-making abilities, so as to keep them out of the system thereafter. Meanwhile, offenders who just made a REALLY bad choice one night, wouldn’t have their lives turned upside down, their clean records blemished, and their employment jeopardized. It is a program unique to Pennsylvania and one that has been very effective. Continue reading

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State of the Schuylkill County GOP

As we put the spring primary season in the rear-view mirror and slowly turn into the summer block party season, it is always helpful to evaluate oneself and take an inventory about where exactly we are as a party before we get to the bumpy road that is the fall general election.

The past year has been something of a whirlwind for the Schuylkill County Republican Party. Never before has the local GOP so drastically veered from the beaten path of status quo politics. We elected new leadership and instituted historic reforms to the county committee by-laws. With change came a plethora of fresh faces, like the 300-member strong Schuylkill County Conservatives, into the fold. All of a sudden, for the first time in decades, the Grand OLD Party was growing. The voters rewarded the party for its new tone last fall as Republicans reclaimed the 125th state house seat as Mike Tobash shellacked two-term incumbent, Tim Seip, and Jerry Knowles won re-election to the 124th in record fashion.

However, it wasn’t all flower petals and love songs. Old rivalries within the GOP persisted and bitterness among the fallen leadership rose to a fever pitch. This was no more apparent than in the primary race for county commissioner. On one side, there was Larry Padora, the newly minted Vice Chairman of the party and very vocal standard-bearer of the reform wing. In the other corner, was veteran war-horse and poster boy of the way things used to be in Schuylkill County politics, three-term incumbent County Commissioner, Frank Staudenmeier. In the middle, was everybody’s favorite insurance salesman and philanthropic enthusiast, George Halcovage, who sought to straddle the canyon between the “old guard” and the “new turks”. Continue reading

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Clarke Report Opens Law Practice!

It took me long enough, but I finally started my own legal practice. That is what has been keeping me from my Clarke Report duties over the past two weeks. So, if you need legal advice or representation at a very affordable rate, please check out the new website and contact me today.

And I will be back here soon, resuming my usual duties as Schuylkill County’s #1 political commentator.

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Holman Officially Announces DA Bid

In a press statement released today, trial attorney Christine A. Holman officially announced that she will seek to unseat Schuylkill County District Attorney James P. Goodman:

FRACKVILLE (March 19, 2009) – Former prosecutor Christine A. Holman, Barnesville, will challenge incumbent James P. Goodman for Schuylkill County District Attorney.

 

“Our District Attorney has turned a blind eye to drug dealers, violent criminals, and illegal aliens in order to clear files from his desk,” said Holman. “We deserve a prosecutor who refuses to make plea deals the norm and who protects the citizens by putting criminals behind bars.”

 

Holman, a former Schuylkill County assistant district attorney, brings 13 years of courtroom experience into a race where Goodman’s lack of toughness on drug dealers will be issue number one.

 

“Jim Goodman has either dropped or reduced the charges of 48% of drug offenders arrested in Schuylkill County since 2006,” Holman stated. “In his campaign four years ago, Goodman promised to stop cutting deals with criminals, but he’s broken his word.”

 

Holman added, “As your District Attorney, I will say ‘No Deal!’ to drug offenders and violent criminals looking for easy time.”

 

Along with her running mate, county Sheriff candidate and former Pottsville City Chief of Police Dale Repp, Holman is committed to pursuing white collar criminals as diligently as she does violent and drug offenders.

 

She also takes issue with the fact that Goodman has not prosecuted the minimum amount of cases expected of the county’s top law enforcement official.

 

“For the $150,000 salary that we pay for the position, this county deserves a working district attorney,” Holman said. “I will not delegate the full throe of my prosecutorial responsibility to my assistants, rather, I will sit first chair on many of the major crimes that pass over my desk.”

 

Finally, Holman believes that the District Attorney has an obligation to work with other agencies in government to proactively combat crime. To do this, Holman has proposed the formation of a task force to fight illegal immigration and a commission to identify blighted or vacated properties that are hotbeds for crime.

 

Holman believes that the district attorney, the county sheriff, and municipal police forces can aid the US Department of Homeland Security in detaining and deporting illegal aliens by using their local resources to identify where these immigrants live, informing DHS when an illegal is detained for another crime, and coordinating raids on local businesses that are known to employee them.

 

A graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, Holman has operated a successful solo practice in Frackville for the past eight years that specializes in criminal defense, family law, and personal injury.

 

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Today is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year and not just because it is my birthday, either. St. Patrick’s Day is a day for the Irish all across this nation (and the world) to celebrate our common heritage. We come together in a drunken stupor, along with wanna-bes who just wanted an excuse to get hammered, to sing the tunes that our grandparents taught us as children and be merry with one another as proud Irishmen.

But let us not forget the namesake of this glorious holiday: Saint Patrick. Below is an e-mail that I received the other day from my good friend and fellow man of Eire, Joe Sterns, that retells the breathtaking story of the patron saint of our homeland  . . . and of green beer.

stpatrick

St. Patrick’s Day in America has become a day of wild celebration.  The weekend was full of parades, and Irish pubs will do a land office business for the entirety of the week as Americans, with or without, a drop of Irish ancestry in their blood toast the Irish and wish each other luck.

 

Lost in the festivities is the person whose feast day we are actually celebrating.  It’s unfortunate, because Patrick is a man worth remembering – particularly in today’s culture.

 

Born in Scotland, Patrick’s first trip to the Emerald Isle was as a slave.  He had been taken from his home by Irish marauders when he was 16, and sold to an Irish Druid chieftain named Milchu.  He was to remain there for 6 years, during which time he learned the language of Ireland and the beliefs and practices of the Druids.

 

After his escape, Patrick entered the priesthood.  When the Church’s missionary to Ireland was killed by the Druids, Patrick asked to replace him.  The Pope, St. Celestine I, agreed and appointed Patrick as bishop of Ireland.

 

The stories surrounding Patrick’s conversion of Ireland are filled with acts of courage and inspiration.   The confrontation between Patrick and the high Druids at Tara would rival any Hollywood production – except Patrick’s story is real.

 

It happened on March 26, 433, which was Easter Sunday.  The King of Ireland had decreed that all fires throughout the kingdom should be extinguished on Saturday, and remain out, until the Druid signal blaze was kindled at the royal mansion.  The Irish chieftains and Brehons and Druids gathered at Tara to defy this new messenger with his Christian tidings.  Patrick stood on the hill of Slane, at the opposite end of the valley of Tara, and in the darkness of Easter Eve, lit the Paschal fire. As the light from Patrick’s fire shone forth in the darkness, the druids cried, “This fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze for ever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished.”

 

The king ordered his druids to extinguish Patrick’s fire, but despite every attempt, Patrick and his light remained unscathed.  At daylight, Patrick and his companions began a procession toward the king, carrying a copy of the Gospels with them.  The druids were unable to stop them, and the king granted Patrick free passage throughout the realm of Ireland.  By the end of Patrick’s life, Ireland had changed from a country mired in Druidic superstition to one that became a beacon of faith. 

 

A beacon that has never been extinguished, despite persecution.  Even today, Ireland continues to stand against the culture of death in its refusal to accept abortion as the law of its land.

Patrick’s gift to the Irish was not luck, it was faith.  His gift transformed a nation.  The Irish were proud and brave and industrious and loyal before Patrick came to them.  The faith that St. Patrick brought gave depth and purpose to the natural gifts of the Irish.  A depth that enabled them to withstand the persecutions and famines that lay in their future.   A depth that carried the Irish who came to America through the years of “No Irish Need Apply”. 

 

The contributions that the Irish have made to our beloved America are not the result of parades or potables.  They flow from the faith that has been at the heart of Ireland since the days when a man named Patrick conquered the Druids on an Easter Sunday morning.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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The Clarke Report Turns 1

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday dear Clarke Report. Happy Birthday to me.

February 7th marked the one year anniversary of the establishment of this website. Oh, what we have accomplished in that year:

179 Posts

418 Comments

55,273 unique visitors

Over 6000 links from other websites

Nearly 5000 Google searches for me, this website, or one of its articles

And the best has yet to come. I started this website to ease the burden from my daily rantings on my wife’s ears. I thought it would just be me, alone, shouting into cyberspace. To my surprise, this blog quickly caught on, soon becoming one of the most popular and influential blogs in the state. I knew there were people out there who had similar feelings about the sad state of local and state politics, but I had no idea just how many of us there were.

It has been a great joy to operate this website, not only in your listening to what I have to say, but also in your telling me how you feel in the comments section, no matter whether it is positive or negative. this endeavor has opened many doors for me and for that I will be eternally grateful to you, my readers. Because without any of you, I would just be another lone voice peeing into a hurricane force wind.

In the next year, I hope to expand the scope of this site from the usual opinion, news analysis, and rumor-milling into more participatory and investigative content due to the fact that many of you are entrusting me with stories and leads that the area mainstream press will not touch. For example, in the coming days, I will tell you about the possible criminal conduct of a prominent Schuylkill County official. Then later this month, I will be reporting live from Blogger’s Row at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference (the annual meeting of influential conservative politicians, pundits, and thinkers of Pennsylvania). Hopefully, I can give you a first hand accounting of Sen. Arlen Specter’s public depantsing by leaders of his own party.

I will, of course, continue providing election analysis, reporting campaign rumors, and giving you first-hand access to inside the Schuylkill Republican Party.

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Holman to Seek GOP Nod for District Atty

Schuylkill County District Attorney Jim Goodman thought he had it made. The Republican Party is in disarray, his office is handling a boatload of high profile criminal cases, including one that has garnered national attention, and with the economy stumbling, not many established attorneys with trial experience are willing to give up or scale back their private practice for a run at public office. As far as Goodman was concerned, he was going to win a second term by political default. Not any more . . . .

The Clarke Report has learned that former Assistant District Attorney Christine A. Holman will seek the GOP nomination for Schuylkill County DA. Holman, a successful solo practitioner based in Frackville who left Goodman’s office in 2005, said, “I cannot stand idly by and let [Goodman] go uncontested. Schuylkill County deserves better.”

Holman is a polished trial lawyer with 13 years of courtroom experience, including four as a county prosecutor. A graduate of Thomas Cooley School of Law, she served as a law clerk in the Schuylkill County courthouse for four years before getting her start as a trial attorney with Rubright, Domalakes, Troy, and Miller in 1995. Following her stint in the DA’s office, Holman went into business for herself, concentrating her law practice in the areas of criminal defense and family law. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at McCann School of Business in Pottsville. Holman is married to the political lightning rod, former Rhoades’ chief of staff Clyde “Champ” Holman.

An official announcement is expected soon. The Clarke Report will have a full profile and breakdown of the race in the coming weeks.

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