'Total disregard for her obligations.' What Centre County's former DA could face and why

Former district attorney says she respects board, will respect any discipline handed down for misconduct

Former Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller testified April 23, 2018, before a state judicial disciplinary board regarding ex parte communications made between herself and a former judge.
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Former Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller testified April 23, 2018, before a state judicial disciplinary board regarding ex parte communications made between herself and a former judge.

The conduct of Centre County's former district attorney warrants no less than a three month license suspension, according to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Disciplinary councilman Anthony Czuchnicki sought the suspension because he said Stacy Parks Miller because fails to comprehend the seriousness of ex parte communications and minimizes her misdeeds.

"(Stacy Parks Miller) made a conscious decision to run the risk of engaging in deceptive conduct, without sufficiently considering the implications of the conduct," Czuchnicki said in his brief.

The brief was filed after an April hearing to pore over the February 2017 complaint filed against her. Parks Miller is accused of engaging in ex parte communications with Centre County judges and using a fake Facebook page to "snoop."

Czuchnicki said Parks Miller violated 14 rules of professional conduct, including knowingly or recklessly making false statements during the board's investigation.

"Respondent (Parks Miller), on multiple occasions, misrepresented material facts to ODC in order to avoid further investigation," Czuchnicki said.

Those same rules of professional conduct prohibit dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation without exception, according to Czuchnicki. He argued Parks Miller induced her staff to engage in dishonest behavior with the creating of a fake Facebook page.

Czuchnicki said the Facebook page enabled the staff to engage in the deceptive conduct in a carte blanche fashion, or without guidance or restriction.

"The fake Facebook page cannot be considered in a vacuum and additional aggravating factors are present," Czuchnicki said.

One of those aggravating factors is the ex parte communications, which Czuchnicki said injured the public's confidence in the legal profession and impartiality of the legal system.

"Not only did respondent (Parks Miller) engage in ex parte communications, she communicated about pending matters before the presiding judicial officer," Czuchnicki said. "The import of this misconduct cannot be overstated."

He also took umbrage with Parks Miller's inability to appreciate the "significant harm" she has caused to the reputation of the bar.

"Although respondent (Parks Miller) testified that she is remorseful for and embarrassed by her conduct, and understands she should be disciplined, as evidenced by her admission to the wrongfulness of her conduct, this remorse is feigned," Czuchnicki said.

He argued Parks Miller's focus is on the lack of an indictment from a grand jury investigation, but ignores the legitimate allegations against her.

"Respondent (Parks Miller) subverted this proceeding in various ways in order to keep the disciplinary investigation confidential until her re-election campaign had concluded," Czuchnicki said. "It seems clear that respondent believed that she would be more likely to succeed in her re-election bid if the public was unaware of the disciplinary proceedings against her."

The allegations against her were deemed admitted in August because Parks Miller had not responded by the deadline. She argued she could not respond because the judge presiding over the grand jury investigation issued a gag order.

"Respondent's (Parks Miller's) claim to the Hearing Committee that she inadvertently missed the deadline by which to file an answer is outrageous," Czuchnicki said. "Respondent missed every conceivable deadline, not by a day, but by weeks."

Czuchnicki said the requested 3-month suspension is due to ex parte communications and the fake Facebook page, but also because of the "negative publicity, flagrant misrepresentations made after ODC commenced its investigation and total disregard for her obligations to the Board, court and the legal profession."

Parks Miller and her attorney for the hearing, James Kutz, are given 20 days to respond to Czuchnicki's brief, which was filed Thursday.