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Commissioners to appeal ruling, say Right-to-Know law vague, untested

County commissioners are expected to appeal a ruling handed down earlier this month in suits filed against the county.

Huntingdon County Senior Judge Stewart L. Kurtz granted a portion of the injunction sought by Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and ordered the county to not respond to Right-to-Know requests involving judicial records relating to Parks Miller and her office.

These requests should be forwarded to Parks Miller and the Right-to-Know officer for her office, Kurtz said.

The decision to appeal came after discussions between commissioners and the county solicitor, Vice Chairman Chris Exarchos said, saying the law is still new and hasn’t been completely tested.

“All we’re trying to do is comply with the law as the legal people interpret it for us,” he said. “Judge Kurtz made an interpretation. Up to that point, we all assumed we were complying with the law.”

Responding to a statement that the commissioners broke the law and owe an apology to the law enforcement community by Parks Miller, Exarchos said the statement is incorrect.

The law is ambiguous, he said, and the commissioners complied with the best legal advice to what the law said.

“Once Judge Kurtz interpreted the law, it doesn’t mean we broke it,” he said. “It’s just Kurtz’s opinion how he interprets it. It may or may not stand on appeal.”

Chairman Steve Dershem said the commissioners didn’t initiate this conversation, saying the issue of forged documents is still the crux of the issue.

“Staying focused on the matter at hand isn’t Right-To-Know,” he said, “What triggered those Right-To-Know requests and the allegations derived from those continue to be my concern.”

Parks Miller said in an email statement it’s a terrible thing that the commissioners continue to embarrass the county and spend taxpayer dollars to forward personal agendas.

“Enough is enough,” “she said. “There is no crisis in the courthouse other than one manufactured by the commissioners. The crisis our county faces currently is housed in the Willowbank Building in Bellefonte.”

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