What Parks Miller's lawyer sees as fair punishment and who's really to blame

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.

Former District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and her attorney responded to allegations that she had "total disregard for obligations" and violated 14 rules of professional conduct.

James Kutz filed his brief on behalf of Parks Miller Wednesday after receiving a one-week extension from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

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

Parks Miller previously said the accusations had a "devastating" impact on her reputation and called the whole affair a "political attack."

The Disciplinary Board is seeking no less than a three-month license suspension, but Kutz argued Parks Miller should not receive any suspension because she has already been punished by her self-imposed suspension. If she were to receive a suspension, Kutz and Parks Miller requested that it be retroactive to Jan. 1, which is when her de facto suspension began.

Kutz said the facts, which are deemed admitted by lack of a timely response, derive from the fruits of poisonous trees.

"The entire downward spiral of the respondent's (Parks Miller's) career stemmed from a knowingly false affidavit, two crooked co-conspirators — (Michelle) Shutt and (Philip) Masorti — a legally defective affidavit of probable cause, a legally deficient search warrant and unfavorable media," Kutz said in his brief.

Kutz said Parks Miller's political opponents, courtroom opponents and Masorti succeeded in destroying her career, but were not successful in turning her case into the scandal they allegedly hoped it would be.

"This case is not the sensationalized story that the media made it out to be. That the headline-hungry press attempted to generate 'clicks' by splashing respondent's (Parks Miller's) picture across its platforms is not evidence of wrongdoing," Kutz said. "The inordinate media attention, untethered from the facts of the case, clearly and disproportionately injured respondent (Parks Miller)."

Kutz also said the relatively short three-month suspension sought by the Disciplinary Board proves the impartiality of the legal system was not affected by Parks Miller's conduct.

He also argued that Parks Miller would not be subject to any sanctions or penalties if this were a criminal case because the evidence was illegally obtained.

"When considering a sanction, this Board should not overlook the inescapable fact that, since 2014, she has been the victim of a vicious, criminal effort to bring her 'down.' Her enemies have succeeded. They secured the negative media attention they wanted," Kutz said. "Their actions extracted — albeit unlawfully — the sole factual basis for this proceeding, which required respondent (Parks Miller) to respond and defend at a time when her re-election campaign was ongoing."

The judges with whom Parks Miller engaged in ex parte communications with never lost a day on the bench and neither received sanction aside from a letter of counsel, which Kutz argued was "curious."

"Fundamental fairness suggests this former district attorney should be punished no more severely than those with whom she allegedly communicated," Kutz said.

Kutz reiterated what Parks Miller said before, which is that she will accept whatever sanction is deemed to be appropriate.

"Despite eight years of diligence and success, and despite the fact that respondent (Parks Miller) was working on her last day of office on Dec. 29, 2017, seeking justice in the (Timothy) Piazza investigation, the very next day, she found herself unemployed, uncompensated and her reputation and public career destroyed," Kutz said.