Michelle Shutt’s attorney says Centre County is still on the hook for things said and done by its district attorney.
Shutt is suing DA Stacy Parks Miller and the county. She says the DA retaliated against her for claims, including testimony before a grand jury, that Parks Miller forged a judge’s signature on a fake bail order as part of an investigation into death threats against an assistant district attorney.
That grand jury declined to recommend charges in the case, believing other testimony from handwriting experts, but the same day the Office of Attorney General made that announcement, Parks Miller stood on the steps of the Centre County Courthouse and called Shutt’s character into question. Parks Miller then filed suit against Shutt, the county, the judge and a number of others, for defamation.
Centre County filed a motion to dismiss Shutt’s suit against them but Shutt’s attorney, Kathleen Yurchak, fired back Friday in federal court.
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She pointed out that the county wasn’t protesting the charges against Parks Miller, only Centre County’s role.
“In fact, Centre County agrees that the district attorney’s decision to call Shutt a ‘criminal’ and a ‘felon’ was a willful and malicious decision and one that intentionally deceived the public,” Yurchak wrote.
She critiqued county attorney Mary Lou Maierhofer’s argument that Parks Miller does not set county policy, pointing instead to her role as “final county decisionmaker” in her office.
Parks Miller’s lawsuit has been dismissed but is being appealed. In his opinion, in which he called the DA’s case “inartful” and “vitriolic,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann pointed to Supreme Court rulings on immunity for those offering grand jury testimony.