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Firm Thinking - Episode 4

Guest Atty. Jarrett Ferentino, Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney - 10/13/20

Host Michael Lombardo speaks to Atty. Jarrett Ferentino, Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney about his role with the District Attorney and insight to his background.

Michael Lombardo: [00:00:10] Hello, everyone, welcome back to the Firm Thinking podcast. When we started the podcast, we said that we were going to have some fun. We were going to talk to some influential people in our community. And we have a really great guest today, one of my closest and dearest friends for a long time, attorney Jarrett Fantino. Michael, thanks for having me today. It's great to be here. You know, you touch a lot of different aspects of our community. We know each other from school. We went to we went to high school, college and law school together. So we know each other a long time. We're also products of the Catholic school system. We were roommates in law school. So we'll talk about that. I'm sure we'll have some some some stories that we want to tell a little bit on Jarrett's background. I don't want to steal his thunder. He can he can talk about it himself, but probably most known in the community for being involved with the Luzerne County District Attorney's office or even a prosecutor with the district attorney's office for quite a long time. You're also the solicitor for the Wyoming Area School District, which, as we talked about, one of our previous podcasts, is a very big deal these days in terms of dealing with coronavirus. I'm sure you're struggling with with all those issues as everyone is. You have a lot of diverse and varied interests. You're branching out into into television. You've done some work on the ID network, any any true crime fans out there. If you're listening to this podcast, I'm sure you are. You have some some experience with that and kind of kind of branching out and you have your own podcast that you appear on and that I was happy to appear on earlier this year, lawyering up with our with our friends, Greg Fellerman and and Eddie Ciarimboli. Yes. Eddie, who was also a member of this firm. And you did it. You worked here. You were on we we clerked here. We were law clerks here together when we were in law school.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:01:56] Another thing we did together, you worked at Kmart together and a whole lot. Right. OK, I forgot about Kmart.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:02:01] It's an honor to be here. I mean, my association with Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn was that of an intern in 2002 with you, Michael. And I just always enjoyed getting to know the professionals here and your staff and many of whom are still here today as I was walking in.

Michael Lombardo: [00:02:20] So, yeah, yeah. We have a lot of a lot of people here for a long time, myself included. I mean, I've been here basically since since then. Time flies when you're having fun again. Yeah, absolutely. Let's let's start from the beginning. I mean, I know there's there's a lot of interesting stuff in your background that we want to talk about for the people that are listening. I think one of the one of the things that that people are going to have interest, some of the cases that you prosecuted. So we could talk about that. I'll leave that to your discretion. But you were involved with the prosecution of Hugo Selenski. That's probably one of the most talked about issues in our community over the course of the past twenty years. Is that something that maybe we can talk about? Sure, sure.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:02:58] Wherever we go, it seems to be that the people want to talk about the Solinsky case. And for those that remember and some of you may be too young to remember, that case began in 2003 with the discovery of several human remains on a property in Kingston Township in the back mountain. And this figure came to infamous figure, came to be known in our community as an accused serial killer. At that time, Hugo Selenski very famously escaped custody from our the Luzerne County prison and the top floor. He was acquitted of murder in March of 06. I was assigned that case the day of his acquittal, essentially, and I had the case for nine years with a great team, prosecuted it with 1st Assistant D.A. Sam saying that he was also a friend and a friend. And we did that case in March of 2015, secured two 1st degree convictions against Solinsky, and he was sentenced to two life sentences for his crimes.

Michael Lombardo: [00:04:00] So obviously, that's something that you're really proud of and rightfully so mean. I know that took up a lot of your time. Nine years. Yeah. And in addition, in addition, I worked in the DA's office. You also have a civil practice. You're a civil lawyer like us here at HKQ Law. So maybe we'll talk about that in a little bit in terms of your balance. So we touch on a couple of topics right off the bat. But let's bring it back to the beginning.

Michael Lombardo: [00:04:24] I want to know, how did you decide to get into the legal profession? Is that something that you knew right from the jump or is it something that you sort of evolved in?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:04:31] How did that work for you, Michael? As you know, as a young man, I cared for an elderly uncle that I had. He was he had suffered from the effects of polio and was left a paraplegic. So through my formative years, I was an advocate for him, something I really enjoyed taking care of both his physical needs. He he had a lot of challenging conditions, but I really enjoyed advocating for him to make sure he had the benefits he needed. And I liked being a voice for someone who couldn't necessarily do it for themselves. And I looked for a profession that would do that. And how you end up in the legal. From there was I liked fighting for for him and I love fighting for people that I would say maybe for lack of a better word, bullies wouldn't expect to have somebody ready to fight for these folks in their corner. And I love being that guy.

Michael Lombardo: [00:05:26] Now, when we were at when we were at Kings, we both we were in the business school. And, you know, when I started, I wasn't, it was I think it was the back of my mind to go to law school, but it wasn't necessarily at the forefront. We were in the business school and I think that was kind of like a fallback.

Michael Lombardo: [00:05:43] If we did, we would have a workable degree if we weren't able to get it in the law school. Now, did you when you're at Kings, we're studying business.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:05:53] Did you were you still thinking law at that point? If you remember, we parked illegally at the courthouse. So while we were there, there were oftentimes big trials going on and I followed them religiously. And I would like to see the DA's going in and out or the defense attorneys going in and out of the inmates coming in and out when we were parking to go over to school. In fact, I would hang around there sometimes and go catch a glimpse of some of the trials. For me, that was like going to Yankee Stadium. Sure. You know, a lot of guys grow up and want to play third base for the Yankees or the Mets. And I wanted to go there. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be having being a part in some form or fashion of those trials. As attractive and impressive as the business world was. It was not calling to me like the ability to be a litigator.

Michael Lombardo: [00:06:40] Yeah, I felt the same way. I couldn't really, you know, I just couldn't envision myself doing that. You know, one of the things that that I knew it was important for me, I think it was important for you, was coming back to northeastern Pennsylvania and making a difference in some way. And I think the legal profession, despite the fact that we're a lot of jokes, at the end of the day, it allows you to do a lot.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:07:03] We are the butt of a lot of jokes. So well, that's the other. I've never I've actually never heard a good lawyer. We yeah. But they're not worth repeating. They're not.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:07:11] But the other thing is, you know, we come from large Italian Northeastern Pennsylvania families. We went to school and when we went to law school together, there was always that talk, are you going to Philly or New York? And then I would basically laugh. I mean, we know we're going back to Pittston, we're going back to Northeastern Pennsylvania and to back home. And the other thing, we were involved in emergency services together. We had a multitude of jobs together. We knew a ton of people. And I love the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I love getting to know the people at Sunshine Market when I work there. I love getting to know the people at Seton Catholic when we were there. So as time went on, we built up these groups of people that we came to know. For me, it was going to be an honor to come back and serve them professionally as a lawyer, which I thought was such a noble profession. And let's face it, I looked up to the Joe Quinn's of the world. I looked up to the Peter Paul Chayefsky's of the world that I grew up reading about. And I wanted to join the fray. I wanted in the game. And I thought, what better place to do it than home?

Michael Lombardo: [00:08:18] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I know that was something that was always important. We had a good group of friends, the most in our group of friends kind of stayed together and everyone kind of kind of came back here, which is rare. It is rare. And I think that one of the things that, you know, it's one of the biggest pet peeves of mine is that when people who are from here go elsewhere and kind of look derisively on those of us who who who stayed here and, you know, we we could have and there's a lot of people who could have went elsewhere. We could have went to Philly, we could went to New York, but we made a conscious choice to come back here and try to make a difference. And that's one thing that always bothers me. People who leave and then kind of use me as a as a punch line. And, you know, I'm not sure if we want to delve into politics, but in the wake of the last election and since that time, the last presidential election is certainly leading up to this time. Pennsylvania has become, you know, sort of this petri dish, particularly northeastern Pennsylvania, like like we're something to be studied.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:09:13] Like, I think we we are a remarkable people here. I think particularly Luzerne County. We are a greatly informed people. We are a bright people, you know, a lot smarter street, smart and intelligent than people give us credit for. We're not going to fall for the typical. We're going to roll up our sleeves and, you know, the people come first. Best that you hear from politicians or business leaders, we hold people accountable. We have high expectations. Our people are hard working. So if you could make it here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, quite honestly, you can make it anywhere. Yeah, that's how we always viewed it.

Michael Lombardo: [00:09:52] Yeah. Let's let's just talk quickly just because it's so unique that we've been able to stay together through through so many different experiences, high school, college and law school. Let's just talk quickly about our law school experience. I mean, I look at back at that time finally, I mean, we had a lot of fun. We shared a. We shared an apartment together and kind of went through those experiences together. For me, it made it made law school so much easier. I mean, we both lived at home in college. That was both of our first extended period of time outside the home. I remember we were talking about this before we sat down for the podcast. I remember distinctly the first weekend that we were down there and we had a pre assignment and civil procedure. And I remember me and you and our our other roommate, who we also went to school with forever, and we were sitting around our dining room table in our in our place and trying to figure out the assignment, thinking like, what the hell, what are we doing here? Is this really what we want to do?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:10:43] We were contemplating packing up. Yeah. Oh, yeah. But well, that was an unfair assignment in our defense. Yeah. That book. So we got to school and I still have it by the way. I so do I. It's in my office. They give us a book. It's called The Anatomy of a Lawsuit. They said read this by Monday. It is literally the entire anatomy of a lawsuit and you would have to be a lawyer and practice five years to understand and appreciate everything in that book. We were under the impression we had to know everything by Monday. So in all fairness, it was a legitimate gripe.

Michael Lombardo: [00:11:12] I think I got to tell you, when I started there, I don't know if you felt this way, but I had no idea what it meant to be a lawyer.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:11:17] No clue. I had no clue. And we found out real fast it was before you stepped foot in a courtroom. It's a lot of reading. Yeah, it's a lot of there's some drudgery. But what they tell you in law school is they change the way you think. Maybe not what you think, but certainly the way you approach any type of situation, be it a business transaction, a family matter in the legal system, a slip and fall case of motor vehicle, it changes the way you assess any situation. And I think what comes out of it is you can see things from both sides. And the third side, quite honestly, you have to learn to take your emotion out of things. You have to learn to look at things objectively while appreciating the emotion of people and how they're feeling. The reality is law school prepares you to consider all of that stuff and in every aspect of the law.

Michael Lombardo: [00:12:08] Yeah, I mean, you're absolutely right.

Michael Lombardo: [00:12:09] I mean, that way that that sort of intuitive and now the way to do to look at look at problems and solve problems, that's really what it comes down to. We're trying to solve people's problems. It's applicable to so many different walks of life. And I think it's why we as lawyers are expected to take the roles that we're expected to take in a community. I mean, we you know, both of us, we don't just have law practices. We have a lot of other interests that don't necessarily involve the law. But you're expected to be.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:12:35] Well, you know, I remember there was a man named Donald Taylor who was talking to us that first day, and he said, when you get out, you're going to be asked to be on a board and this and that. I would think, oh, that's great. I'd love to do all that stuff. And inevitably, you're asked to be on every board and every time you sit on any board or a part of any organization, no matter what the situation is, they look to you because it's easy. Number one, they think the lawyer has the answer. Number two, it's easy to blame the lawyer if things go wrong. A lawyer told us to do it. But the other thing about law school, too, was you learned a great deal, but you learn more than you realized you were learning. You know, what they were preparing you to do was to be able to harken back. You didn't walk out of there knowing every aspect of property and contract law. You got out of there knowing the basically the pieces of the puzzle and where to look when a problem presents itself. I was amazed three years later how much I retained because like anything else, as you go through it, you know, you're feeling the pain of it. You're feeling the stress of it. But quite honestly, that is a remarkable system, how it's taught, how law students learn the law really is.

Michael Lombardo: [00:13:42] Do you I know you're going to remember this, but that was like the first week that we were down there, like still kind of in the orientation phase. That guy that we went had that shirt on.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:13:50] It's said the good the good lawyer, the lawyer knows love. A great lawyer knows the judge well. He didn't make it through the first guy. He was shown the door in two ways. I don't think I don't think he made a couple a couple of guys and a couple of ladies didn't make it. But there were a lot of reasons.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:14:04] I think I really think that we went to we went to Dickinson Law School, Penn State, Dickinson Law School now. And, you know, we were there during 9/11. You remember that? Oh, yes. 9/11 anniversary. Absolutely. And but I think that institution was really they were supportive of law students. They weren't looking to scare people out of the business. I think people realized it was they had bitten off a little more than they can chew when they got there or it truly wasn't for them. Yeah, so but we were there. We were together on 9/11. I remember that morning like it was like it too.

Michael Lombardo: [00:14:36] I honestly I remember I remember he says that people from years ago used to say about the Kennedy assassination, assassination.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:14:42] But 9/11, by all means, like I just you never saw a group of lawyers together that quiet. Everybody very quiet. Yeah. We were watching everybody together in the cafeteria and then we were home. And it was just a very sad day and so certainly unforgettable. Yeah. And a game changer for all of us.

Michael Lombardo: [00:14:58] I remember that semester we we had a routine every every day. We would go our separate ways during the day. Our class schedules are the same, but we always come back. Your mom said, I was going to say that we cook the guy to this day, I still don't know how to cook. But yeah, that was a nice tradition that we had. I mean, almost like a family. I mean, you know, you got to be back at six o'clock, five, six o'clock, please come back at night and and have dinner and just kind of be about the day. I mean, that was you know, those are the things that you miss. But what's funny is when we were there, I knew that, like, I was was into it enough to realize that, like, man, we're going to overall, it was a really pleasant.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:15:36] It was we made some great friends that are practicing law all over the country, some all over the world. I stay in touch with a lot of them. I've enjoyed watching their success. And now I'm married with a family now watching them branch out and have babies of their own and become accomplished in the law.

Michael Lombardo: [00:15:54] Your son is getting to an age where he might be starting to think about professions and career choices. Would you encourage or discourage him to pursue a legal career? I would.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:16:05] Well, my little girl's eight. I think she's going to be the lawyer. Yeah, I would agree. She's sizing up her office in my firm already. Dominick, my son is 13. I would never discourage him from doing it. But I think Dominick is a math and science person. I could see him doing more engineering or something like that. However, not to say that that doesn't have its place in the law, I would never do. I enjoy what we do. I love what we do. I could not imagine doing anything else ever. Yeah. Till I'm if I'm lucky enough to live, till I'm one hundred years old, I will be in that office till I'm on my partner. Charlie's eighty three years old. He's there every day.

Michael Lombardo: [00:16:43] If only we can go back. We were talking about that day when we sitting on the table and just think how stupid we are.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:16:49] But that's another thing we talk about. Like, you know, do you regret anything in your career? Sometimes I regret not taking the time to smell the roses on anything. I mean, everything we do has a stress component to it, because whatever you're handling is the most important thing to that particular person, to a victim of a crime. You know, add to it the media and the public pressure that some of what we do has. And it's the stakes are pretty high. Every now and then you got to sit back and say, this is truly a great experience. We're given the opportunity to help people. Some of the victories in the courtrooms are really, really thrilling. Yeah. I mean, you have to take the time to enjoy those things.

Michael Lombardo: [00:17:30] I mean, look, and you've accomplished a lot already. I mean, we're, what, almost twenty years and not quite twenty years into our profession. You know, if you had to close the book on things right now, God forbid today, I mean, you can look back and you you know, you'd be able to write a book. I mean, you've had some some pretty interesting experiences. So let's fast forward to that a little bit. Let's let's you've basically been at the Luzerne County DA's office from from the jump, right?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:17:54] I mean, I was I've been there seventeen years.

Michael Lombardo: [00:17:56] Ok, so let's let's talk about that. Did you kind of envision yourself to become a prosecutor, something you always wanted?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:18:02] Well, I would watch those cases and I wanted to be on that side of it. I have a tremendous respect for the public defenders and the defense attorneys in this community. I count I get along with some of them better than I do with my fellow prosecutors. But for me, it was on the side of law enforcement. For me it was on the side of victims. And although I recognize the importance of the Constitution, the rights of defendants, it's certainly an obligation we have.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:18:30] But for me, it was to be a prosecutor. So I got into it three weeks into the job. I was at my first murder scene.

Michael Lombardo: [00:18:39] Well, let's let's talk about that, because I don't I'm not sure if people realize how intimately involved the DA's office is. I mean, you're right there with the police, so just kind of walk us through that. How does that how does that go your home? You're on call. I kind of explain that.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:18:52] Well, Michael was an EMT person, you know, that you get a page and whatever it is, you got to go. So I'm one of several assistant days that prosecutes homicides here in Luzerne County. So if we have a killing within the county limits, I. I can be called to that killing.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:19:09] I usually get a call from our district attorney's calling. What is how does that work? Well, we have on-call DAs, but there's a certain rotation for homicides. So DA Stefanie Salavantis on call. And whenever Stephanie calls late at night, you know, it's not to check on how you do it. Yeah.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:19:26] She's calling to say that there's been a suspected killing. We get we get an address, a brief description, and you go, I have a usually clothes set aside that if I get called out to go. So there's really not much of a delay.

Michael Lombardo: [00:19:40] So let me let me ask you. That's an an advantage because you as a lawyer, a case you might have to bring before a jury. You're right. You're there right from the get go. You're at the scene. If there's a murder weapon there, you see where it's land and you see where the bodies are, all that sort of stuff. We don't have those advantages. Typically in in the civil war where someone comes to us with a with an issue that something's already happened and we have to kind of reconstruct that, rely on private investigators and so forth. So just kind of take us there with you at a scene. How does that go? How do you navigate that? What are you looking for?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:20:12] What should be the first thing you're looking for is the crime tape, so you know where you're going. We go in, we sign a crime log and, you know, there could be a helicopter up in the sky. There could be law enforcement all over the place. When I go there, I look for the corner. I look for the state trooper or lead detective in charge from our office or from the respective department. I am looking with the understanding and this is what I tell the young DAs. Now, I'm I say to them, everything right now is going to end up in a box in your office. So appreciate everything. Make sure those reports make sure things are getting documented. Certainly don't get in the way of law enforcement. But when you've been doing it long enough and develop relationships with the individuals that do this sort of thing in the state police in in the larger police departments, you're a part of the shot calling that goes on there. I'm there to discuss whether warrants need to be issued, whether or not certain evidence me should or may be collected.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:21:15] And I consult on all those things and all the while imagining that next step. How, you know, there are times I'm thinking about I may mention this in my closing. I mean, I make a note not to forget how I'm feeling, the emotion I'm feeling. My first case was the murder of our county. Luzerne County Fair Queen Carey Martin was eighteen years old. She was murdered. The Gacha case. Yes. In May of 2004, I was called out to that scene. Very young lawyer. They don't teach you in law school how to handle that. She was brutally murdered, stabbed dozens of times in a botched robbery. It truly an innocent victim had nothing to do with her assailants. Her assailants were Daniel Kukucha, Joseph Gocha, both who are now deceased. She was lying in a pool of blood. Nothing prepares you for that, but I, I would remind myself to calm down. Don't forget how you feel right now. And that was the first case I was part of from cradle to the grave, literal graves of our defense.

Michael Lombardo: [00:22:18] Now, I know one of the things that you really pride yourself on and you've done a really good job with is your closings. And, you know, we could we could debate the importance of the closing in terms of convincing a jury. I mean, there's so much stuff out there now, so much literature, and there's so many people that study jury attitudes. And I think that's going to become even more important now with with coronavirus. I mean, it's going to be hard to sit on a jury panel jury. We'll talk about that in a moment. But let's talk about your process for developing a closing argument. Like how do you go about doing that?

Michael Lombardo: [00:22:48] How do you how do you approach that when we're selecting a jury? We don't have the jury consultants and that process that you use in the DA's office that you're afforded in the civil realm. So really, you have a very limited amount of information when you're selecting that jury. So you have to become attentive to reading people looking for certain signs in individuals that would suggest to you that this may be a good juror. This person is a level head. This person appears to be loyal. This person lived in our community for a long time, is raising children or as a grandparent, worked at a job for 30 years. So those are the folks I'm looking for that are going to see it as maybe as we see it. The other thing I do when preparing what comments I'm going to make, your father is one of the smartest people I know. Make sure he sees a picture and a philosopher. My mother is also one of the smartest people I know. And I will run a factual situation by my mother. And nine out of ten times her initial reaction is spot on. So I somehow work her reaction into what I'm saying, because maybe people wouldn't expect a 30 or 40 something prosecutor to come at this from the perspective, you know, a woman who's lived a life raise children and grandchildren and experience things. So it gives you another perspective.

Michael Lombardo: [00:24:06] Yeah, I think that's an issue that Yaquis guard have to guard against. Even in the civil world. When you're looking at a case, sometimes we get so locked in, like, this is my theory. This is what I'm going to talk about. This is what I think is important. But sometimes you miss the forest for the trees. It's good to get that outside perspective.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:24:20] They could think about this or. Well, we're always I'm always looking for quotes and things that you could be watching a sport or wrestling or something silly. And an announcer makes a statement. And this has happened and makes a statement like, wow, that that's applicable to what I'm doing in this case. And you write it down. I have like a running list of quotes. You find a way to work those in really. Michael, what it comes down to is telling stories. I love to tell stories. I love to tell the story and paint a picture for the jury.

Michael Lombardo: [00:24:53] Well, I think that's what your jury is expecting, right? That's what that's what they're expecting to hear. And of course, they have all sorts of expectations from what they see on TV.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:25:00] Well, and that's the other thing. So it begins and we talk about how important the closing is, but it begins in the opening. And one of the things we try to say in the opening is, first of all, everybody's nervous, OK? I'm not letting anybody in a secret here. The lawyers are not sure. Sometimes they're more nervous than what could be a sociopathic defendant who's not nervous so. Well, things are so high, right? So we come in and the first thing I try to do is put a jury at ease and then say, not directly. I am someone who's going to help lead you through what you're nervous about. And how am I going to do that? I'm going to do the following things. And when you show a jury, you you commit to them, you promise them you're going to do certain things that you know are going to be meted out in your presentation. If you can come back up to that jury in closing and say, do you remember a week ago or two weeks ago when I came up here and I said I was going to show you this, this, this and this, you can do that. First of all, as you're doing those things, you're building your credibility, the credibility of your side when you do it in closing, you're just wrapping it up. They're saying, you know what, Mr. D.A., you took me through this stormy situation. I was scared when I got here. I remember you told me you were going to do these things. You did them. What is it you need from me now? I need you to convict because my credibility's here. And not to say defense lawyers can't and don't do the same thing, but oftentimes they overpromised and underperformed because something happens unexpected on their side. OK, and then all of a sudden. Yeah, so that's the thing. You can't overcommit either.

Michael Lombardo: [00:26:31] It's credibility. You know, I think Joe Joe Quinn says this all the time. You're going to give an opening and you're going to promise that you're going to deliver a certain set of you can't prove a certain set of facts. You have to check make sure you check those boxes off because. Oh, absolutely. The minute you lose credibility with the jury, you absolutely do them.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:26:48] I look over and I just not. Yes. Like my boy toy. OK, so there's a little bit of that to which there's some showmanship. I mean, they expect that and I love that part of it.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:26:57] I love, you know, people will say, you know, there's what? There's there's critics in every walk of life, but I didn't come there to be quiet. I didn't come to the DA's office to be you know, I always say this, you know, we have we have some fine attorneys. And over the past 17 years, I've gotten the opportunity to work with great, great lawyers. And then we have some that are afraid to go to trial. And I think it's like working in a barber shop and you're afraid to cut hair. You know, not only do you want to cut hair, you want to you want to go a little crazy with it. You know, you want to do something. And I always say to my kids, I say like. Start unknown, leave unforgettable, and the only way to do that is to take those high risk cases, to be if you if it requires you to be a little bit of a showman, then so be it. That's what people expect. You also have to be you know, we're human.

Michael Lombardo: [00:27:43] It's natural. We're going to have some reservations. We're going to have some fears. But you have to be you have to put that aside. You have to be friends. You have to be willing to take your case into the courtroom. And you and if you're not willing and we say that here all the time and your client says all the time, if you're not willing to take that case to trial right at the get go, right when the case walks in the door, what are you doing? I mean, that's what we're we're we're trial lawyers. We have to be willing to go on.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:28:05] How do you expect anybody to believe something you don't believe in strongly? And that's the other thing. We're there's so much nonverbal.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:28:12] You know, I'll come off of a I don't want to have too many secrets out, but I'll come off of a sidebar with a judge who tells me I'm nuts or completely wrong for something I just did and don't do it again. And I'll walk back over by the jury or my team and I'm nodding, yes. Like that when our way it's complete. At that time, I'm panicking. I'm hoping to create a mistrial. But the reality have to show that you have to be confident. The other thing is you've got to know your case inside out. You have to prepare like crazy, which is something we do. Bill Finnegan, who's my law partner, Bill's the king of meetings and preparation meetings, and she taught me that along the way he's somebody I credit with. He Bill taught me to prepare a case.

Michael Lombardo: [00:28:52] And that's key to the whole thing. That's a part of the job that I think a lot of people don't appreciate. You know, people think that, you know, you go to law school and all of a sudden you're going to just be a successful, wealthy person. It just doesn't work that way. It's like any other profession. You got to put the work and the effort in. And that's it's the behind the scenes stuff. It's leading up to the courtroom. That's that's the important stuff.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:29:13] Building your case and getting your experts to talk about what we were talking about, the Solinski case, that was thirty thousand pages of material, hundreds and hundreds of interviews.

Michael Lombardo: [00:29:21] And you just have to have a command of it. You just there's no other way around it.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:29:25] You have to be able to put the work and the effort in where it gets difficult to is when you have multi jurisdictional investigations, where you have the FBI involved or the state police and a lot of local departments like the Solinski case because it touched on so was a series of somewhat related crimes and then unrelated murders. So you had to figure out, number one, the chronology of all this number to how it all fit together. So the lead detective in that was Gary Capitán who Gary's and now retired Gary captain for the DA's office. But Gary conducted dozens and dozens of interviews. He was also assisted by a larger team and a gentleman by the name of Jerry Sakti from the state police. Sometimes there would be an interview over here from two thousand four and the guy's doing the interview with the ladies. Doing the interview in two thousand and eight may not know the significance. It's on the lawyer to tie all that together. And that's something that was critical in that case. And it's not easy.

Michael Lombardo: [00:30:17] No, it's never it's just there's no substitute, though, for the time, the preparation, the hard work you just have to do.

Michael Lombardo: [00:30:23] These cases are won and lost on your kitchen table. No doubt when when everybody else is sleeping, you're up reading, reading horrible, horrible things. And we're reading autopsy reports and you're looking at pictures and you're imagining how you're going to put it together. That's where those cases are won and lost. If you can't do it there, you will not be able to do it in a courtroom. And then there's a physical training component to it because we're working 15, 16 hour days, four months on some of these trials. So I do a lot of running and things like that. That's part of it, too. And, you know, there's times I don't feel like doing it, but you got to do it.

Michael Lombardo: [00:30:58] And we spent a lot of time not in this one, but in previous and previous episode, talking coronaviruses. I don't want to spend our time here talking about coronavirus. But one thing that I am interested in, just to see what your perspective is on it, you have I know you have a homicide trial coming up very soon. I'm not sure where that's going to fall based on when this episode airs. But do you have concerns about seating a jury?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:31:20] So we're set to begin a jury trial, homicide first homicide trial since the pandemic began at the arena. We just come from viewing the facility. We are on the floor of the arena where we graduated from college together, by the way. But it was the same day as a plane crash. It is a very frightening crash. It's very surreal to look at this set up. I can't I'm not aware of any other trials that have ever occurred in an arena. But but maybe Phillips, our deputy court administrator, and Judge Vogue have done a great job of preparing this off site location. So I personally am not concerned. We've created a situation where people can safely social distance. We can provide the defendant with the due process that he is entitled to. And our system is going to work and it has been working.

Michael Lombardo: [00:32:05] We back up and running. And what are the logistics like? How is it how is that going to be set up? You're not going to have that intimacy of of a courtroom. I mean, you're going to be on the arena floor.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:32:13] I mean, how is that going to work? The jury is going to be spread out on one side of the courtroom and the judge are in the center. The parties are in front of the judge. The jury is on the side and in a large area quite spread out. We have large video screens. We're using the. The Titan Tron scoreboard, video screen as well for our presentation, so everyone can see, because there's going to be an area for the public to attend to, but it's a little surreal setting it up in that venue. But we're looking forward to getting back to this is a case.

Michael Lombardo: [00:32:45] This is the mark. Joseph Monka is the victim in this case. And three of the defendants have pled guilty. One defendant, Mr. Cunningham, remains, and his trial is coming up. Right. We're looking forward to getting our system back up and running again. And the courts have been up and running. Judge Vogue has done a great job of getting our criminal system and our civil system back up and running. But I have personally been working through the criminal system for the past two weeks, two weeks, and it's been great.

Michael Lombardo: [00:33:12] Yeah, I've heard there's already been a civil trial that a post corona civil trial. And I know they've put a lot of precautions in place and that's not happening everywhere. So no, but they got a verdict. They they were able to get a verdict on it without any interruptions. I think they they had to cycle in some of the alternates.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:33:29] But part of the attorney, as you know, is being able to adapt on a dime. So we'll we'll be there. We'll put our case on and we're looking forward to it.

Michael Lombardo: [00:33:38] We mentioned at the outset I mentioned at the outset that you're doing some stuff on TV investigation discovery. Is that right?

Michael Lombardo: [00:33:45] Yes. Well, that's one network where I do a lot of I've been doing some true crime stuff, podcasts and some shows. So they've done a couple of different networks. But Investigation Discovery is one of the primary networks that does that. That's for people that are interested in true crime. That's probably a good idea. I was fortunate if I did a we did a special on Bill Cosby, Aaron Hernandez, Chris Watts, who was a man who killed his family. So and we have a very, very good JonBenet Ramsey special coming up on the twenty fifth anniversary of her killing, a very sad situation. So we've met with parties from that case and filmed in New York just three weeks ago on a rooftop in the Bronx, which was a great experience except for my wife, Nicole. We were up till four thirty four thirty in the morning filming in the Bronx during covid, which was neat, but we had to get it done in one shot. So that's done and that'll be out in time for the 25th anniversary.

Michael Lombardo: [00:34:43] Let's let's, let's get some, some personal stuff out there just to let people get to know a little bit better. One of the questions that I asked on a previous episode and I kind of stumped the guest by I don't think you'll be stumped if you could have a dinner and invite any three people from history to that dinner, who would those three people be?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:35:03] Wayne Dyer, who is a motivational speaker who I listen to, I've been listening to since I started as a prosecutor.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:35:13] He's definitely someone I would love to have dinner with.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:35:20] I'm trying to think who else in history I would love, well, you know, I would love to have dinner with Al Pacino. Yeah. Just to thank him for his body of work. And certainly my dad, who I lost a long, long time ago. Yeah, I figured that's what you're get. I mean, you know, and so everybody knows.

Michael Lombardo: [00:35:34] I didn't Warren, I didn't give you any heads up. No question. I knew you wouldn't have a problem with it. I usually the one asking the questions, so.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:35:42] But yeah. I mean, certainly my dad, who I have, I would be interested in to hear a lot of what he's been gone since nineteen eighty five. And I'd certainly be interested to hear what he thinks about where our family is in the state of the world, those kind of things. And those are the people of the three people I identified there, the people that have been influential for various different reasons in my life and have unfortunately been unable to share a meal with those three. I could tell you, though, the folks that the people that have been most influential in my life, I make a point to have dinner with pretty regularly.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:36:15] Sure, sure. Speaking of that, we're both kitchen guys. We come, as you mentioned, we come from Italian backgrounds. We love to eat. What's your favorite spot here? To pick a spot to go for it?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:36:29] Well, my favorite spot is the Gramercy, and I'm usually not shy about that. I'm there several nights a week. Yeah, dinner is great.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:36:37] Everyone sits in the same seat that is signed. But quite honestly, that's how it happens. It's Old World. It's a great, great thing about the Gramercy. It feels like food that your grandmother prepared.

Michael Lombardo: [00:36:49] I say that all the time and I tell people that all the time. I think it's honestly I think it's the best kept secret and probably shouldn't be saying it too much because now we're never gonna be able to see there. Right.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:36:59] And good food takes time. We love to be there at night and everybody knows everyone in there. And so we spend the evening there. It's great. And Nicole and I and our kids spend a tremendous amount of time that we love it.

Michael Lombardo: [00:37:10] I can understand that when we have places like the Gramercy and there's we can pick off one hundred other places and I can understand why we have such that gem of restaurants and people go to Olive Garden. I don't know. I never understood.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:37:23] No, I, I just think they're not maybe not willing to branch out and try some of the independent places. But what what are some things you do in your free time.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:37:34] I run every day. I spend a lot of time with Nicole and the kids. We have an ATV. I spend a lot of time touring the woods of Greater Pittston. But those are the kind of things mostly though running, I would have to say, which I run into you pretty regularly. I'm not early in the morning, usually about six thirty along the Susquehanna River. I try to do five miles a day because I eat too much and I need to keep weight off. But I like that and it's an opportunity to kind of distress. And I listen to the morning news or whatever when I run again, get ready for the day and you're in it.

Michael Lombardo: [00:38:11] You've been on the cutting edge. We mentioned at the outset you do have your own podcast with with Ed Ciarimboli.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:38:17] And Greg Fellerman committed to premieres in about two weeks.

Michael Lombardo: [00:38:21] And what are some of the topics that you guys are looking to cover or have covered?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:38:24] Well, we've covered we've had our county manager, Dave Pedri, one of my dear friends. We've had Shawn Walker, another dear friend. Sean is a local pastor, an activist in our community. We've covered politics. Our next our plan is to have a representative from the leadership of the Republican Party and a leadership from the Democratic Party in the next two weeks to talk about the upcoming election and Luzerne County's role. Again, we did an episode a short while back with our friend Bill Vince Co, and the whole world has changed since then.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:38:59] If you listen to that episode, it sounds like we did it ten years ago because that was pre covid. It was pre some of the latest developments in the election. So we're looking forward to doing that again. But we try to tackle the legal issues of the day and we have some fun with it.

Michael Lombardo: [00:39:13] Yeah, we didn't talk much about your involvement with Wyoming area. How's everything going there? I mean, obviously we keep mentioning corona and it's getting to the point where it's like, I really don't want to talk about it anymore, but it's almost like we have to talk about it because it affects all of our lives so much. So how's everything?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:39:29] Well, in the DA's office, I'm a partner and pretty easy fitting in SHAFFER & FERENTINO and one of my jobs there is I serve as a solicitor, some different entities, Wyoming area, the largest of the entities that I serve. So as a solicitor with school district, you're available twenty four seven to the superintendent and your nine member school board. So we've had any type of issue you can imagine over the past ten years. We've had, you know, we had a work stoppage, we've had a pandemic, we've had facility closures. But I enjoy that work very much.

Michael Lombardo: [00:40:01] Everything's going smoothly over there in terms of coronaviruses.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:40:04] Yes, for the most part, our teachers have done a really good job. Our board is being supportive of virtual. We're virtual right now. Our original plan was to go hybrid, but there were some logistical difficulties in doing that that we realized pretty quick.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:40:19] But we're looking forward to getting to a hybrid and bring and getting back to school sooner than later. Sports are all playing sports or playing with some attendance limitations and precautions that the PIAA has put in place that will work this year following their guidance. Essentially, yes. You're not you're not making it up as you go along. No.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:40:36] And we differ in the pandemic. We've been very deferential to the superintendents talk regularly, the solicitors' talk regularly. We work together to try to make sure we're being consistent and compliant.

Michael Lombardo: [00:40:48] How is it worked over historically? Pittson Area, Wyoming area. It's like Hatfields and McCoys being any. How is that how is that work?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:40:56] In the beginning, it was a challenge, but I think I'm an adopted west side. Or when it comes to Wyoming area.

Michael Lombardo: [00:41:03] Yeah, the lines are the lines are blurring. My fiance, a Britney, she's graduated from Princeton area, lives and lives over on the east side. But but teachers and coaches over there. So there's been a lot of blending.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:41:18] Well, there's a lot of that. A lot of the families, some of the what people find to be one area, too. I'm sure your families have deep roots. So, yeah, although the Hatfields and McCoys a bridge is the only thing that separates used to be.

Michael Lombardo: [00:41:32] So what does the future hold for you? Where do we where we go from here?

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:41:36] I just want to continue doing what I'm doing. I hope to continue to find challenging cases. The DA's office. I've been there a long time. Every year I say might be my last. But there's that one case that I said, well, when this trial's over, maybe I'll look at it. But I really love that a great deal. So I can't imagine that changing any time soon. You know, my partners, I'm the youngest partner by twenty years in my firm and they're not going to like hearing that. But it's true. I really enjoy I work with Paul Pugliese, Charlie Shaffer and Bill Finnegan. I mean, I care for those guys who are dear friends of mine. So I can't imagine anything changing drastically other than we're going to continue to serve our clients and work hard.

Michael Lombardo: [00:42:17] So we've managed to reduce almost thirty, probably almost thirty years of friendship to attack going. I don't know how long we've been at this now. Forty so minutes. So maybe we can get you to come back in the future and we can talk about more specific topics. We kind of bounced around. We had a lot of different things.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:42:34] Very good conversation, for those watching Michael and I used to pretend we had a talk show on the way when we were kids.

Michael Lombardo: [00:42:40] Well, we we we slowly thought provoking stuff.

Michael Lombardo: [00:42:43] We we we say that we we went to Dickinson. It was our first foray outside the home, but we came home every weekend.

Jarrett Ferentino: [00:42:50] Yeah. So the way home, we always the talk show to thank God no one heard. Yeah. We recap the week.

Michael Lombardo: [00:42:57] We're glad that you that you joined us as we start rolling out this, this podcast. We had a lot of fun today. I'm honored to be here. I love it was I think we'll have you back if there's some important legal topic of the day that you could lend your your advice and your expertize to and have some more fun. Thank you. All right.

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