Castor files new challenge in Parks Miller lawsuit

Bruce Castor filed new documents opposing the county’s response to District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller’s amended complaint.
Bruce Castor filed new documents opposing the county’s response to District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller’s amended complaint. Centre Daily Times, file

The Pennsylvania solicitor general took time out of his busy schedule running embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office in Harrisburg to file some paperwork for another female leading lawyer, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.

Bruce Castor represents Parks Miller in her ongoing lawsuit against her county and the remaining handful of officials she is taking on after more than a year of conflict between her office and the county commissioners.

On Tuesday, that meant yet another volley as Castor served up documents opposing the county’s response to Parks Miller’s amended complaint.

Only a few defendants remain after a federal judge dismissed most of the suit’s charges earlier this year.

U.S. Judge Matthew Brann left the door open to refile a Fourth Amendment complaint against the county, Commissioner Steve Dershem, former commissioner Chris Exarchos, former administrator Tim Boyde and former solicitor Louis Glantz. Castor did that on June 1.

It all started in January 2015 when allegations were raised that Parks Miller forged a judge’s signature on a document as part of an investigation. The commissioners stepped in after defense attorneys brought up the issue at a weekly meeting, and it culminated in Bellefonte police serving a late-night search warrant on the DA’s office.

That’s when Castor argues things went awry, resulting in the county officials violating Parks Miller’s constitutional right to privacy.

He also argues that the commissioners roped Bellefonte police into it, saying they “willfully coerced the police to obtain a search warrant, knowing there was no probable cause.”

The case was turned over to Kane’s office for investigation. She revealed the results of a grand jury investigation later that found no grounds to pursue charges against Parks Miller.

Castor has been on the inside of the situation from early on, not only representing Parks Miller as she was being investigated and in the lawsuit but also serving as her special assistant DA.

County counsel Mary Lou Maierhofer argued in her last motion that Parks Miller did not follow the judge’s directions and the new complaint should be dismissed, questioning whether the individuals named were being sued as individuals or in their official positions.

Castor shot back in his filing, calling that a straw man argument that pointed to the county’s overall weak defense. He also called Maierhofer’s attack on Parks Miller’s seeking of punitive damages in the case “disingenuous.”

Castor asked Brann to deny Maierhofer’s motion to dismiss the claim.

Brann already dismissed a mixed bag of charges against several defense attorneys, Commissioner Michael Pipe, Parks Miller’s former paralegal and Pamela Ruest, the Centre County judge whose signature was in question.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce