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Mike Jones/Observer-Reporter

In this file photo taken Wednesday, Washington County Clerk of Courts Brenda Davis is detained by sheriff’s deputies outside the courthouse after refusing a court order to transfer juvenile case documents. She was later released, but purportedly went to an area hospital for treatment on an unspecified injury after being handcuffed by deputies.

Washington County Clerk of Courts Brenda Davis has been ordered to appear before President Judge John DiSalle Thursday at 9:30 a.m. for criminal contempt proceedings after refusing an order last week to hand over juvenile court files that had been kept in her office.

The order issued Monday says that Davis should “be prepared to answer for her contumacious behavior.” It goes on to state that if Davis does not appear, a bench warrant will be issued for her arrest.

The contempt proceedings come after Davis was briefly handcuffed by sheriff’s deputies Wednesday after she allegedly refused to give them juvenile delinquency and dependency cases so that they could be transferred to the Juvenile Probation Office. The transfer grew out of an increasingly contentious dispute between Davis, DiSalle and the county’s commissioners over her duties. Davis, a former Washington mayor who was elected clerk of courts in 2019, has waived several of her duties after workers were transferred out of her office.

The order issued Monday states that Davis interfered with the staff of the Juvenile Probation Office attempting to carry out an order to get the files, locked a vault door in her office that contained the files and resisted sheriff’s deputies. It also says that her behavior disrupted the courthouse, and it takes her to task for refusing to enter DiSalle’s courtroom for a hearing, and then leaving the building. Davis reportedly complained of back pain and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Davis said Monday she would be reviewing the order with her attorney. She said the order to transfer the files violated Pennsylvania law and that she was “assaulted by multiple deputies” and was denied legal representation and medical treatment. Davis also said she was “illegally detained and handcuffed,” and that when she was elected, the clerk of courts office was “riddled with scandal, corruption and fraud.”

In November, Davis argued with Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan during a commissioners meeting over two clerks in the clerk of courts office being moved to the county’s Adult Probation Office. Irey Vaughan said the change was being made because Davis was only carrying out about one-third of the duties typically handled by a clerk of courts.

Staff Writer

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. He serves as editorial page editor, and has covered the arts and entertainment and worked as a municipal beat reporter.

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