District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller says Centre County in contempt of court

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller is asking an out of county judge to find the county in contempt of court.

The request stems from an order issued last month by Huntingdon County Senior Judge Stewart L. Kurtz involving Right-to-Know requests and how the county is to handle them. Kurtz ordered that the county not respond to requests involving the judiciary, including Parks Miller and members of her office, and to forward the requests along to the proper officials.

Bruce Castor Jr., Parks Miller’s attorney, argues in the filing that the county acted in “flagrant violation” of the order when a request from the Centre County Public Defender’s Office was denied by county Administrator Tim Boyde after Kurtz’s order was issued and not forwarded along to Parks Miller, the Right-to-Know officer for her office.

Exhibits to the filing show that Boyde received the request from David Crowley, chief public defender, on May 8. Kurtz issued the order in Parks Miller’s case on May 13, and Boyde denied the request on May 18. Boyde named Kurtz’s order as the reason for the denial in a response to Crowley, according to court documents.

Crowley’s request, which asked for records of communication between Parks Miller and Judge Bradley P. Lunsford in eight cases handled by Lunsford, has since been appealed to the state Office of Open Records. Castor wrote that Parks Miller did not learn of the request until the appeal had been sent.

“It is clear the (c)ounty refuses to accept the plain decision of this (h)onorable (c)ourt and will work overtime to continue a fake controversy rather than simply pass on a request to another department as required by law and this court,” Castor wrote.

Castor requested a hearing on the matter in the filing, and also that Kurtz assess any fines and attorneys’ fees and to “consider whether the actions of elected and appointed officials of Centre County are sufficiently contemptuous to warrant a trial, and upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt, such other criminal sanctions as the (c)ourt might believe appropriate.”

Kurtz is presiding over and ruled similarly in lawsuits filed against the county by Court of Common Pleas Judge Jonathan D. Grine and District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker.

Mary Lou Maierhofer, attorney for the county, denied any wrongdoing on the part of her clients and said a response to the contempt motion would be filed soon.

Boyde was out of the office and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

County attorneys are appealing Kurtz’s rulings in each case to the state Commonwealth Court.