Matt M. McClenahen
- Founder, 11/01/2006
In 2001, McClenahen began working for the busy York County Public Defender's Office, where he quickly gained a reputation as a formidable trial attorney. McClenahen's mentors as a public defender included many experienced, successful defense attorneys and he would not have become the skilled advocate he is today without their help. McClenahen would serve as a public defender for 5 years, acquiring death penalty defense qualification on July 30, 2006, pursuant to Rule 801 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
McClenahen had a total of 36 jury trials as a public defender, with 24 wins, 11 losses and 1 hung-jury.* In non-felony drug trials, McClenahen's record as a public defender was an amazing 20-6-1, which would be impressive for a prosecutor, but is much more remarkable for a defense attorney, given the fact that the deck is usually stacked against criminal defendants.** In felony drug trials, which are generally the most difficult type of case for a defense lawyer to win given the nature of the evidence, McClenahen has still managed to win 6 of 11 trials throughout his career, including a record of 5-0 in cases in which the Commonwealth's case relied on the testimony of a CI.
In 2005, McClenahen worked on a death penalty case as co-counsel, but handled only pre-trial matters, as he was not yet death penalty qualified. In 2006, McClenahen left the York County Public Defender's Office and returned to State College to practice criminal defense, opening McClenahen Law Firm LLC on November 1, 2006.
McClenahen's interests include history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, languages, natural sciences, music, travel, football and soccer.
*A win in a criminal trial does not necessarily mean an all-out acquittal, but a trial result that was better than the prosecutor's plea offer or the likely result had the defendant pled guilty to all charges without the benefit of a plea agreement. Thus, a defendant who was charged with the first-degree felony of aggravated assault, but is convicted of only the second degree misdemeanor or simple assault, won his trial, because he was convicted of a much less serious offense. Had he been convicted of aggravated assault, he would probably have been sent to state prison, while a conviction for simple assault could result in a sentence of probation. However, if the client has only one charge and is convicted, McClenahen still considers this a loss for win-loss record purposes even if the sentence turns out to be more favorable than the sentence offered pursuant to a plea agreement.
**The deck is usually stacked, against criminal defendants because the police very rarely, if ever, file criminal charges against a defendant unless they themselves are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of a defendant's guilt. Where the evidence is flimsy, a prudent police officer will generally elect not to file charges unless and until he or she can acquire more solid evidence. Felony drug cases are generally the most difficult cases to defend, as they often involve a sale of drugs either directly to an undercover police officer or to a confidential informant, while the police are observing, recording or filming the transaction. With the evidence in most criminal cases being overwhelmingly against the defendant, it takes a very skilled criminal defense attorney to overcome this disadvantage, while a prosecutor of modest ability can often win convictions.
Areas of Practice
- Criminal Law
- Traffic Violations
- White Collar Crimes
- Pennsylvania, 1997
- Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
- Penn State University
- B.S. - 1994
- Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
- Honors: Delta Phi Alpha German Honor Society
- Honors: Golden Key National Honor Society
- Christian Albrechts Universitat zu Kiel
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
- Centre County Bar Association
- Pennsylvania Bar Association
Past Employment Positions
- Turo Law Offices, Associate Attorney
- Honorable Timothy S. Searer, Law Clerk
- York County Public Defender's Office, 2001 to 2006