Chesco Ass’t DA to join Army JAG Corps

Jonathan Harrar

One local prosecutor has decided to trade in appearances at thecourthouse of Chester County to potentially serving in some of the world’s hot spots, by serving our country.

Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Harrar has enlisted in the United States Army and will be serving as an officer in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps (“Army JAG”). Army JAG handles the prosecution and defense of criminal matters involving Army personnel, as well as other legal  matters, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said this week.

Harrar’s first step will be to undertake the direct commission course located at Ft. Benning, Georgia. There he will learn his duties as an officer in the United States Army. Next he will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia, where the Army JAG School is located on the grounds of the University of Virginia. In Charlottesville, he will study the Code of Military Justice along with other areas of the law an Army JAG officer is tasked with knowing. Both courses are designed to prepare him for his first assignment at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Ft. Bliss is home to the Army’s 1st Armored Division and houses state-of-the-art training facilities for soldiers to prepare for deployments  all over the world.

Harrar has had a distinguished career in the District Attorney’s Office. At 6’4″ and 230 pounds, he was an imposing sight in the Justice Center. He was the lead prosecutor in the courtroom of the Honorable David Bortner. Most recently, he led that team that earned a conviction of James Cannavo of attempted murder and related charges in a highly publicized trial for a shooting of a West Chester University student in the Borough.

He also famously hit the home run that helped the Chester County Bar Association to defeat their federal counterparts in the annual softball gaine.

“The District Attorney’s Office is proud that Jonathan Harrar has chosen to serve his country,” Hogan said. “Our office has veterans from every branch of the military services, and each veteran encouraged Jon to embrace this honor. We will miss him, but the Army has gained a great advocate and a soldier  who will never quit.”

Harrar said it would be tough to leave Chester County, but that he felt the call of his country’s service.

“It has been a great honor to represent the citizens of the Commonwealth throughout my tenure with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office,” Harrar said. “I hope I did it in a way that was firm when necessary but always fair. While I am reluctant to leave behind such amazing colleagues and law enforcement, I do so only because because of a desire to serve my country in the United States Army.”

Harrar even drew praise from the bench on his conduct in Chester County.

“It has been my pleasure to have Jonathan Harrar assigned to my courtroom for the past several years,” said Bortner, the judge Harrar typically tried cases before. “As a prosecutor, he is tough but fair. Before a jury, he is an impressive and well-prepared advocate. The Army JAG Corps will greatly benefit from his legal talent and skill, and I will greatly miss his amiable presence  in Courtroom 6.”

Harrar is not the first member of the Chester County District Attorney’s Office to make this career choice. In 2016, Assistant District Attorney Tony Rock enlisted in Air Force JAG, and currently  is stationed in San Antonio, Texas, with the rank of Captain.

The District Attorney’s Office also announced other personnel moves. Erik Walschburger was named the first-ever Deputy District Attorney of Diversionary Courts, encompassing Drug Court, Veterans Court, Recovery Court, and other treatment and diversionary options in Chester County. Megan King was named Deputy of the Child Abuse Unit. Joining the District Attorney’s Office is Erin O’Brien, who most recently served as the Assistant Chief of the Family & Sexual Abuse Unit in the Philadelphia  District  Attorney’s Office.

Although personnel changes are inevitable in a county District Attorney’s Office, Hogan said he was pleased to continue to add such top-flight talent.

“The Chester County District Attorney’s Office continues to attract top-flight talent,” Hogan said. “The strength of the office, combined with the privilege of living and working in Chester County, makes this a sought-after destination for prosecutors.

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