A new role has been filled in the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, and it might have implications in Centre County.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced Tuesday that she had created a new position within her office, that of solicitor general.
“The position of solicitor general was added to strengthen and support the leadership of the Executive Office and further the initiatives of the attorney general on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania,” her office said in a press release.
Kane, who has been increasingly under fire in recent months, including losing her law license and fending off attempts to oust her from her office, also announced who was filling that position. She tapped former Montgomery County district attorney Bruce Castor.
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That name will sound familiar in Centre County, where Castor, a Republican, has been allied with another Democrat: District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.
Castor has represented Parks Miller in her ongoing legal battles regarding allegations she forged a judge’s signature. Kane presented the case to a grand jury, which did not find enough evidence to move forward.
Castor is also representing Parks Miller in her subsequent lawsuits against the county, the commissioners, Judge Pamela Ruest, a former paralegal and some defense attorneys, claiming defamation and other wrongs in the bringing of the allegations.
Castor filled one more role in Centre County, being sworn in as a special assistant district attorney in April 2015. His role at that time was to “extend only to cases involving efforts to disqualify the district attorney of Centre County and her assistants from prosecuting cases, and such other matters as the district attorney might assign to me from time to time.”
Parks Miller was supportive of the Kane appointment.
“Attorney Castor’s loyalty to Centre County and this prosecutor’s office remains fully intact. He specifically made it a condition of his new position that he be permitted to continue to serve as a special ADA with Centre County for any matters that I may appoint to him on an as-needed basis,” she said.
“He also waived any future compensation for the ongoing ADA position because he is simply a prosecutor at heart and he enjoys doing the right things for the right reasons,” Parks Miller said.
“This new position also allows him to maintain his private practice and to continue on as my personal counsel for the civil rights lawsuit which is pending for the outrageous false accusations made against me. I doubt he would take any employment that would interfere with his ability to handle that case, nor would I want to lose him for that matter as he is uniquely qualified to handle it,” she said.
According to the OAG, “various attorneys general across the nation employ a solicitor general to serve as a check and balance and assist in facilitating the mission of the Office of Attorney General.”
Castor has also been known on a state and national stage as the sex crimes case of Bill Cosby took the spotlight. Castor was the DA at the time a victim stepped forward. He declined to prosecute the case.
Asked if there were concerns about the appointment due to the attention garnered by the Cosby case, assistant press secretary Jeff Johnson responded: “The attorney general believes he was the right candidate for the position given his credentials and expertise.”
Johnson called the appointment “a move designed to improve efficiency within the office,” and said Castor would predominantly work on policy.