This blog is directed (mainly) at the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board and citates mainly a 2016 article from the Pace University Law Review. The article discusses the consequences of prosecutors who engage in tawdry, cheap and unethical behavior, all in hopes to further their careers and power, by romancing the press for 15 minutes of fame. And, further, how such behavior can directly impact the outcome of cases, and the overall integrity of the Courts.
If you are a Judge or a Prosecutor, and you do amazing things, then the attention will follow. The halls of Justice are not some perverted reality TV world of Celebrity Apprentice, there is serious work to be done, particularly in Criminal Justice Reform initiatives. This is a crucial thing to be addressed.
First, thank you – AMELIA KITTREDGE AND ANTHONY CHUZNIKI OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DISCIPLINARY BOARD – for cracking down on Centre County.
Thank you both for the recent crackdown in Centre County. Your efforts have been a refreshing and hopeful change.
Your efforts are comforting. Particularly comforting after a statewide scandal in recent years with convicted felon, former Attorney General Kathleen; imprisoned former Philaddlphia District Attorney Seth Williams; the Porngate scandal with our state judges; the Kids for Cash scandal; the Frank Fina & Cynthia Baldwin misconduct during the Sandusky trial… etc.
Pennsylvania criminal justice system has been in a literal state of “crisis” for many years now. It’s good to see some rays of sunshine among the historically, disheveled, and devastating landscape of the Pennsylvania judiciary system.
After a the glitz, opulence, extravagance, and gilded excess of AG Josh Shapiro’s substanceless tenure; recently, I began to get a better sense about the frustrated pulse of Pennsylvanians – toward their justice system – collectively.
Krasner’s hero-complex prevailed as authentic, he was an explosive, sudden, bombastic and game changing entry into the Philadelphia Courts was eye opening, and impossible for me to stop following to see what the h#ll he is going to do or say next. He added promise to what otherwise seemed a deplorably broken system. Every couple of months another politician seems to be getting arrested in Philadelphia.
It wasn’t just Centre County Courts that were in need of rehabilitation. It was more a salient crisis, penetrating and with the voters frustrated and victimized by rogue judiciaries and prosecutors across the state.
Initially I was able to sense this universal and aggregate frustration watching the state react to the twisted details Kathleen Kane’s indictment. She was once a political shooting star, who the media adored and who could do no wrong.
And then when Shapiro ran for office after Kane was indicted, he ran on the podium of “restoring justice,” and “tackling the opioid reform. He promised complete “transparency.” No leaking of documents, no perjury, no spiteful plots or playing politics. As soon as he won office, his solution to restoring the public’s faith in the criminal courts – after Kane and Porngate – was to have all of his 900 plus employees sign “integrity oaths.”
It was a depthless and superficial gesture, that was accompanied with yet another guady, grandiose, self-promoting press conference. Nothing came of it, I think the OAG employees had to do some online training. 900 Pennsylvania Government employees in the Office of Attorney General had to sign a piece of paper promising to be “ethical.” We should have saved the trees. Shortly after, he settled a lawsuit with Kathleen Kane’s twin sister, who had sued the OAG for wrongful termination. The missing cash from the drug forfieture money in the Philadelphia central office under Kane’s administration, totaling over $300,000 dollars was forgiven. No investigation ensued, he turned a blind eye.
There is a John Cole Cartoon I am reminded of. It’s a pig washing his feet when the rest of his body is covered in mud, and the message inscribed? “All Clean Now.” It was right after Kane got indicted and removed.
Shapiro posed beaming in commercials, with the sleeves of his Brooks Brother’s Oxford rolled up, just soaking up the spotlight of the cameras. Making all these promises he would never come to keep. “I will release the porngate report,” “I will restore ethics, integrity in public faith in the criminal justice system,” “I will combat public corruption,” “I’m going to fix the opioid epidemic,” …. Just to name a few. So far all he does is join in class action lawsuits, normally filed by one of the other 30 plus democratic Attorney Generals in the state.
He’s small in stature, and has the allure and appearance Hostess Twinkie. It looks good in the wrapper, and the first bite is good and the rest are disappointing. In the end, you look at the wrapper and it’s calorie count, and you wonder why the hell you ate that? It was substanceless, and not that great. Everytime he eats a taco or belches out some disingenuous, limp wristed, criticism of trump, he writes a letter and blasts it out to the media making sure to spend some added taxpayer dime on office time, or in chauffeured governor car reading about himself.
Let me remind you: Stormy Daniel’s signed a piece of paper swearing and attesting to something too. It was called a non-disclosure agreement, and she had the added bonus of getting hush money…………….Well, that really worked out.
Anyone caddish louse like Shapiro promise to be “ethical,” or “restore integrity,” or for that matter, promise anything absurd.” Some of these dirtbag lawyers think they are slick all day long, and can sell ice to an eskimo. …they say if you don’t vote, you get the government you deserve, and if you do, you never get the results you expected.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri,
Everyone remembers Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, and that deeply tacky bad-realtor like ad she ran nationally. Hillary went to Yale, but resorted to the sales tactics of bad daytime television commercials, which promise to get to you out of debt, or sell AARP supplemental insurance, or household products (which limited time offer, come with a free gift if you call now). That’s this generation of policiticians. Don’t laugh. What? You think because Josh Shapiro knows how to post selfie videos, and because Josh is a middle aged man who knows how to use facebook, that all of a sudden he “knows what voters want?”
Essentially it was a gesture with form but no substance, like he wasn’t an elected prosecutor, but one of dingy door-to-door tupperware salesman, or sleazy timeshare con artists, working on commission and using old school pressure and fake promise tactics- Using high pressure, outdated and fraudulent textbook closing techniques, he gets a fat check off you for a timeshare that your naive @ss will never likely want to visit again in the first place. He uses every tactic, to scam some money off of you.
Josh Shapiro hardly differs, scamming votes from Pennsylvanians by spouting out bold faced lies, and then – after elected – not at all delivering on promises he probably never intended to keep anyway. And there is always some fractured, sad, deplorable part of the population that falls for it.
Like Hillary, and her “who do you want to pick up the phone in the middle of the night?”
Voters are not of their parent’s generation, they are not that fickle and they are less dumb. Someone invented the internet since Reagan ran for office.
But that’s neither here nor there. There is something unethical and unseemly about prosecutors and judges, gallivanting, showboating and flaunting themselves shamelessly in the media for their own conceited political agendas, and without a splinter left the best interest of the public at heart the preached on the campaign stump.
Josh Shapiro, with his taxpayer funded motorcade, and dad pants spends his time engaging in class actions, or traveling the state. He ignores cases of political corruption, choosing to arrest inner city youths, from destitute communities, with psychological problems, and addiction problems. He doesn’t want to burn the same people who could potentially prop him up in the next election.
Possibly, strategically, he never wanted to be Attorney General at all, but all of this was a big stepping stone for another agenda. Because he certainly does not seem to be focusing much of his attentions on Pennsylvania.
Posing with Obama and the Clintons, his aspirations are likely much more grandiose: The White House. Yes, his ego is that big. It’s about ten feet taller than his stature. While Governor Tom Wolf drives a used Jeep to work everyday, Shapiro wastes taxpayers on a motorcade. Likely envisioning himself getting chauffeured to capital hill one day from his home on Pennsylvania Avenue, all the while taking carefully scripted selfie Facebook videos, or dictating press releases about letters he wrote to Washington that nobody reads, nor makes any difference in long run to the average voter in Pennsylvania.
Like the Narcissus of the fabled hunter in Greek mythology, Shapiro in the hot glow of the glare of camera flashes, seems to have fallen in love with his own reflection and completely forgot where he came from. Like the myth goes, Narcissus dies alone, while staring at himself. These politicians who fall in love with themselves under the glare of hot spotlights, tend to burn out quickly. The public and the media, overtime, eventually always spots someone who chooses themselves over keeping promises or being authentic in serving the people.
- But when a prosecutor speaks in the role of an advocate, and makes statements about current prosecutions, as an expert on TV, or on the internet, such statements have the capacity to prejudice future criminal proceedings. It is with respect to advocacy speech that a prosecutor has to be most careful, and except for limited facts about a case, a prosecutor as a general rule has a duty to refrain from speaking. In our system, politics, power, and ego may well drive much prosecutor speech. Further, a prosecutor’s potential relationship with a media that is eager and able to obtain and disseminate the prosecutor’s statements highlights a danger to the system and to those accused of crimes. Regulation of prosecutor speech is piecemeal and inconsistent. It may be that the only meaningful control is the prosecutor’s own sense of fair play, integrity, desire to do justice, and self-restraint.
Polished by these 80 year old “campaign advisors,” Shapiro uses these cheap door-to-door sales tactics to steal votes – but worse, after they steal the votes and get into office, they fulfill none of their promises, they do nothing substantial, and even in the first year of their four year tenore – the power goes to their head – and even in the first year they are plotting and scamming and going through all the motions of office with the next election season in line.
Shapiro also promised to release the Porn Report, while he was frenzidly saying any damn thing on the campaign trail, pandering public votes and press attention.
Fat lie that was.
Josh Shapiro never released the porngate report, and I don’t think it was ever his intention to. Shapiro’s touted his experience in cleaning up an office even larger than OAG — that in Montgomery County. In addition to promising to “re-focus” the office on its obligations to Pennsylvania citizens, Shapiro said emails pulled under Kane that show a pattern of racist and misogynistic behavior should be released. Shapiro said if those emails that were founded in relation to the statewide “Porngate” scandal aren’t released by the time he gets into office, he’ll release them.
Anything to buy enough votes to get into office, and purportedly he went from a no name commissioner out of that shithole suburb of Philadelphia, Norristown Pennsylvania, to now the “Paris Hilton” of Attorney Generals in the U.S., posing for narcissistic selfies everywhere.
But there were favors to be repaid, and favors to be had.
You don’t run a $6 million dollar campaign for Pennsylvania without licking a few sweaty balls, and compromising the very principles you are campaigning on:
- Third, the public needs to be able to follow the money. We must require instant, online campaign finance reporting so that voters know who’s backing a particular candidate, and we must increase transparency across the board.Let’s open the door and give the public access to information, including how state officials spend your tax dollars for their expenses.Fourth, when a public official breaks the law, we will hold them accountable. We need stronger anti-corruption laws, which is why I am proposing tougher punishments and longer sentences for public corruption.
“Longer sentences” for public corruption? What sentences? Josh Shapiro doesn’t prosecute public corruption, unless you call writing letters to Donald Trump (which Trump likely never reads), a “fight” to end public corruption.
So as far as I have seen, Shapiro’s office didn’t lift a finger to prosecute his old time friend Kathleen Kane (whom he once campaigned for). That bail pending appeal conviction on the jail sentence she was supposed to be serving for public corruption?
Well, at minimum, I guess you may have the same prediliction by now. He isn’t doing a damn thing and stalled the entire thing. Certainly no zealous prosecution out of that office, but plenty of time romancing the media – issuing a press release or posting a selfie livefeed everytime he farts just so the public thinks he is working.
The opioid epidemic? Despite all the inner city minority thugs Josh Shapiro jails, Governor Wolf has declared the opioid epidemic a statewide emergency.
LARRY KRASNER, AND OTHERS
(RARE SIGNS OF HOPE, BUT THEY ARE THE SLIM MINORITY AMONG A BUNCH OF OTHER DIRTBAGS)
I am hoping the surge of guerilla warfare by the Disciplinary Board on local actors in Centre County is at least going to inspire change on a local level. After all, there is a theory that all roads of corruption in Pennsylvania are tied to Centre County.
Maybe at last, at last, now the Judicial and Prosecutorial misconduct, which has been rampant for years, rampant and out of control, like an untreated pubic lice from a you met outside a bar hooker in jersey at the shore, or untreated gonorrhea like someone might just catch from a woman like Stormy Daniels, whose biggest claim to fame is purportedly f#cking Trump for a potential opportunity to be on his reality TV show celebrity apprentice. There seems to be no substance behind the endless politicizing, it’s like he is still campaigning two years into office, and its tawdry.
But there are more dawning signs of hope.
Recently, I have had the pleasure to follow the successes of Philadelphia District Attorney, LARRY KRASNER, ESQUIRE, and some of the incredible changes and desperately needed reforms that he is implementing in Philadelphia. After the troubles with disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and after the troubles with former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, I feel for the Philadelphia region in general, as well as the legal community: Seeing wayward, and out of control prosecutors held accountable, is healing on many fronts. CITATION
Speaking with some other private activists in the criminal justice reform arena, most notably Jeffrey Deskovic CITATION , and Kathy Morse (The Petey Greene Foundation) , I have recently become to develop a greater passion for Criminal Justice Reform, than I ever thought I could have had. These stories I am hearing through channels like the Innocence Project or the Deskovic Foundation are written – BUT STOPPABLE – American tragedies.
There is a growing movement, but the public needs more education on the problem, and the dirty prosecutors in office need to stop spoon feeding voters piles of horse shit. Like how Josh Shapiro is “fixing” the opioid epidemic, etc. Larry Krasner is the start to something, but there is not nearly enough of him. He needs to be duplicated multiple times and his clones put strategically across the state in some of these shithole podunk Pennsylvania towns infested with the drug epidemic, and with clowns in office. Except they are worse than Shapiro, not only are they clad in smug smirks and dad jeans, they are too unsophisticated to use facebook on the marketing scale Shapiro does.
Yes, Bill Shaw, that snide remark was specifically directed at you. Let’s face it, you had a couple heated elections, but the majority of time you run unopposed. Because no lawyer wants to practice in the hillbilly misery of Clearfield County courts, where sentences are exorbitantly long for low level offenses.
Letting this charade go on with Judge Ammerman and Judge Cherry. Denying indigent defendants accused of crimes right to counsel at a preliminary hearing. Allowing inmates to sit in jail for sixty days after their parole order or bail order was signed by a Judge, because the prothonotary is too lazy to put the Order on the docket. CITATION Where are the repurcussions for this behavior? Where is the accountability for that fat bald slob Brian Spencer who is wasting precious time of people, because he can’t file do the menial chore of filing paperwork? Only moved to any sort of compelling action when the County Jail Warden started to complain there was no room in the jails. CITATION
And Clearfield County voters: Are you sleeping? Or just maybe zombies in the throws of poverty, a desolate economy, a self serving goverment and crippled by the opioid epidemic. Where is “corruption fighter”/Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to protect Pennsylvania through all of this? Oh I forgot? He was filing a joinder motion for some class action suit, likely written by another of the 30 plus out of 50 Attorney Generals in this state. All form, no function. Ignoring the problems at home to showboat in the national spotlight. Taking a tax payer funded motorcade after work to go to his kids soccer game. Throwing minorities in impoverished, undereducated minorities in jail, whom he labels as opioid “dealers,” in jail, so he can have a press conference and say he is “fixing the opioid problem.” Where was the “corruption fighting” Attorney General Shapiro during what was happening to Clearfield County criminal defendants? Where was Shapiro protecting inmates who were sitting in jail for over two months after they were to be released at the end of their term.
Why is Shapiro suing Facebook and Equifax, and not cracking down on the squalid state of the judiciary in his home state, or tackling – like Krasner – areas of desperately needed criminal justice reform? Or is he too afraid to do the right things because he doesn’t want to risk losing the moderate or loosely conservative voter base?
And these run down small town rural coal and industrial towns would rather publish about homecoming parades, and obituaries, than do any actual coverage of the news. It’s not watchdog journalism: The Butler Eagle – for one small example – regurgitates whatever the press tells them to print. Judge Doerr is in some serious trouble, and in the unwelcome workplace sexual advances to a much younger officer of the law are well documented in civil court, but the press still hasn’t breathed a word of it. Butler County press is not a watchdog, it’s a political promotion tool used by judges and elected local officials to promote themselves. Why has no one in the state picked up on this story? Why is there no suspension or ongoing investigation by the county?
In fact, I just propose the state fires Shapiro next term and puts Krasner in there. Krasner did more in four months than Shapiro did in two years.
And for the most part, Krasner is low key in the media. He is less self promoting, more cause promoting:
- A prosecutor also needs to be silent because the consequences of his speech are so grave. As Holmes reminded, a criminal trial must be carried out in a courtroom, not in the media. A criminal defendant is guaranteed a fair trial by an impartial jury.Indeed, the right to a fair trial is “the most fundamental [right] of all freedoms.” Moreover, the components of a fair trial-public trial by an impartial jury-do not necessarily insure a fair trial when a prosecutor may have previously tainted the proceeding by irresponsible public statements about evidence that may never get to the jury and, THEREFORE irefutably”damage[ed] … the cause of justice.
And as for talking about pending cases in the press, not a damn peep out of Krasner.
Which brings me to this…
WRETCHED BEHAVIOR OF PENNSYLVANIA PROSECUTORS IN THE NEWS MEDIA
As you clearly know, when prosecutors blur ethical lines, or break the laws, there are devastating results. I recently read a 2016 article, published in the Pace University School of Law, Legal Review Journal. Please find my CITATION here. The article addresses how prosecutors, and former prosecutors, have a “Duty of Silence” discussing cases (particularly pending cases) with the press.
The results of the wayward prosecutor breaking ethical rules and abusing the power are devestating. And the most immediate in apparent violations, are self serving performances in the press. If you look at cases like Deskovic’s or the other thousands of exonerees in America, there is a running trend in almost all of them: THE PROSECUTOR PUTS POLITICAL AMBITIONS AND PERSONAL FAME BEFORE THE CONSTITUTIONAL PINNACLES OF JUSTICE.
Despite the well documented abuses, and the extensive number of cases that have been overturned on appeal, prosecutors are seldom held accountable. If there is accountability, the penalties are (historically) far to insufficient to dissuade other prosecutors of violating the rules in the interests of self promotion.
These old bat has-beens running for elections unopposed in small counties just love the dollar-store fame and trailer park property billboards. It’s the sleazy and vulgarly selfish thrill of that proportionately small sliver of attention. It’s the ego that goes to their heads after appearing in small town, hardly read, almost out of business newspapers. Newspapers which people only renew their annual subscription to because they like to use them as lining in their cat’s litter box. But moreover, it’s the pressure of the next election after the next, all the while trying to keep their fraudulent, ego-centric motivations from seething out to much. God forbid the voters catch on, and this is the trend of much of the prosecutorial misconduct that transpires nationwide.
In the bigger cities, like Philly, now with Krasner in office, Or like Las Angeles, there is a noticable and distinctive trend. More press is covering the increasing number of social injustices that occur as a result of the misbehavior of fame and power hungry meglomaniac prosecutors.
More and more the press is covering the frighteningly incremental increase in the number of overturned convictions, and the horror of the massive amount of exonerees. The statistics have a patternistic trend, as in more and more people are being exonerated annually for crimes they did not commit in the first place. Whether through DNA or new evidence, the trend is clear to even a layman.
The epidemic of prosecutorial abuse, and the “tough on crime” mentality of the Reagan areas is becoming more transparent to modern voters, who are armed with instantaneous social media stories, and “Dateline” documentaries.
More than that, I think the newer younger generations are seeing the overall effects of mass incarceration. And reading the stories, there is one trend that continuously transpires: An American prosecutor’s need for power, fame and re-election votes colludes their ethical morality and compels them to violate the oaths of attorney ethics they took to uphold the law. Re-election is more important than integrity. Want to know more about that? I would recommend contacting Josh Shapiro, or Kathleen Kane, or Seth Williams, and of course a wealth of other corrupt judiciary and court “officials.”
Civil lawsuits can of course hold counties accountable, but the majority of exonerees are disabled due to mental health issues, struggling emotionally and bitter over time lost. Most of them (statistically) happen to be impoverished minorities, who were sensitive and suspicious of the government in the first place. A wrongful conviction only seals in their mind their original suspician, that the American justice system is out to get them.
I’m not exaggerating. Take a look at Ferguson, Missouri.
HE PUBLIC NEEDS A BETTER PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT IN THE PRESS AND ON SOCIAL MEDIA, AND HOW IT EFFECTS THE OUTCOME OF CASES:
First, the prosecutor is held to an extra higher degree of integrity and standards, as opposed to their counterparts working in private sectors. They hold public offices, and they are technically a branch of the judiciary. (No they are not Judges, and no they are NOT the judiciary). What they are are pulpits representing the American People, enforcing the laws, and perhaps “keeping people safe,” if their own greed doesn’t make them trip over their ego.
- The power of the prosecutor, combined with the influence of the media, makes for a dangerous combination. The symbiotic relationship between prosecutors and the media is well known. While banner headlines and incendiary news coverage garner prosecutors free publicity and significant leverage in getting convictions, the close collaboration with prosecutors gives the media special access to confidential information and the ability to break stories and then spin them to a large and receptive audience.
This brings me back to the subject of Centre County, and what happened in Centre County.
With two facebook websites, “Poppy Miller” and “Stacy Parks Miller, Attorney at Law,” Centre County has experienced this “dangerous combination” firsthand. It’s destructive, devastating and has the most tragic effects on regular human lives. The second biggest courthouse scandal to hit since Gricar disappeared, or the Sandusky tidal wave hit.
There are no Jeffrey Deskovic’s that we know of yet. EMPHASIS ADDED: “Yet.”
But certainly there have been convictions overturned, and it’s not normal for any county to have a walking sociopath in office, with no recourse or repurcussions for years. Pennsylvania voters do not have legislative power to recall defective, or cruel prosecutors who engage in some of the worst misconduct, read about, or hear about firsthand.
And seemingly, like Kane, with no consequences.
Was it because Seth Williams was a black man that justice was swift? Is the Pennsylvania/American justice system racist all the way through and through up the heirarchical scales of all economic classes.
Sure appears that way.
Parks Miller prosecutor, or former prosecutor, who wants media attention is chock full of privileged information, about Defendants, Witnesses and confidential details of currently pending cases..
This “privileged” information includes knowing evidence that hasn’t been made yet admissible in Court, knowing witness statements, having an understanding of the CONFIDENTIAL and PROTECTED information that has not been yet made public.
What are the Consequences of Prosecutorial Misconduct in the Press?
A Prosecutor has an Ability to Taint a Jury Simpy by Inflammatory News Coverage; Coverage that is Designed – (like some cheap grocery store tabloid) to Self-Promote during Election Year
Penn State Greek Community’s death of Timothy Piazza was a media SCANDAL from the beginning, and she milked it during an election year.
It was her ticket to national fame, or so she thought. Honestly, the national papers, and even respected state papers covering the story don’t even mention her. I bet most reporters, outside of the rural parts of Center Pennsylvania, would have trouble coming up with her full name on Tuesday trivia night.
Recall, Parks Miller made every national appearance possible in this case. This case was her “golden ticket” to winning the election, except she would never inherit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is about to roll her out of the legal scene like Oompa Loompa, as they are in the process of removing her license.
Which is good, the Pennsylvania should make an example out of her, as well as other prosecutors who discard their ethical obligations and engage in lawbreaking in order to get re-elected, and possibly – she thought! – famous.
She was rumored to have even been blowing off other pending criminal cases, so she could make appearances on “Good Morning America,” or do interviews with National Media outlets. And I think the court dockets and public record reflects that. It was more important to Parks Miller to be center stage than it was to uphold the duties of her job, and the oath of integrity she took as a barred attorney:
- And with the ability of the media to saturate the public with pervasive, repetitive, and often inflammatory news coverage about a case, a prosecutor’s public statements almost always have the potential to prejudice future jurors in that case and thereby inflict prejudice to persons suspected or charged with wrongdoing.
Before the case even got to a a preliminary hearing, the public was well aware of her scathing opinion of the fraternity brothers that she charged, but as well as the details of evidence in the case. Defense Attorneys had not even had the opportunity to object to the admission of any evidence during a preliminary hearing. Before a preliminary hearing could even be CONDUCTED, the evidence was splashed out in a “glamorous” and self promoting press conference, which not only infused Centre County and Pennsylvania, but was all over the national media.
To me, it’s quite reminiscent of former district attorney Michael Nifong, who prosecuted the Duke Lacrosse rape case – where several people were indicted. They were later found innocent, when the victim confessed it was all a lie, and that she never had been raped. Mike Nifong was – shortly after that – removed from office and disbarred. I think he is a paper boy in North Carolina now, and I believe he got jail time.
- Additionally, District Attorney Michael Nifong, in a succession of numerous press statements about the Duke Lacrosse case, demonized the three defendants charged with raping a woman at a party as “a bunch of hooligans” who committed a “gang rape” based on “racial hostility,” denounced them for not “want[ing] to admit to the enormity of what they ha[d] done,” branded their conduct as “offensive,” “unconscionable,” “reprehensible,” “appall[ing],” asserted that they were “not telling the truth about it,” and also stated his opinion that “a rape did occur,” that he was “convinced there was a rape,” and that the evidence of the victim’s demeanor and trauma “was certainly consistent with a sexual assault.”118 As the cases progressed, it turned out that a rape did not occur, the victim lied, and the young men accused of rape were innocent. 11 9
North Carolina is a little more squared away than Pennsylvania when it comes to punishing corruption in their courts.
But – even had the Duke Lacrosse players been found guilty – their reputation was already irrevocably contaminated in the national news, even before trial had begun. They were painted guilty before their lawyers could even have any opportunity to launch a defense.
- Indeed, a prosecutor’s public statements can destroy a person’s reputation, prejudice his right to a fair trial, and undermine the public’s respect for the way the criminal law is administered. And most tragically, a prosecutor’s public statements can contribute to the conviction of innocent persons.
The exact same deplorable scandal occurred in the Piazza case. It was a purposely-induced media clusterfuck from the beginning, which came solely as a result of one woman’s desperate maneuverings during election season.
She held press conferences every time defense counsel so as much sent her an enclosure letter. She released biased, jury-tainting and histrionic press releases. She overcharged. She colluded with Tom Kline, a lawyer who she had no business talking to as an “Attorney for the Commonwealth.”
Kline did nothing wrong, he is wracking up damages and acting in the best interests of his clients. That is what he does, and he is good at it. One of the best Plaintiff’s lawyers in the state, and one of the most riches and feared. If Tom Kline sues you, it’s going to be in the millions. He doesn’t chase ambulances, it’s got to be seven figures in damages for him to even lift a finger. One million might make him blink, $30-100, and he appears at press conferences as often as he likes. He makes waves when he does it, the media pays attention to Tom Kline. After all, he is pocketing 30-40% of the gross, he is a very very rich man. He is a very formidable advocate, acting according to his ethical duties as a Plaintiff’s lawyer.
Does he want the fraternity brothers charged?
Of course he does. It’s like getting representing somebody in a lamborghini, who gets hit and crippled by a drunk driver. There is no theory of negligence. Defendant was drunk and criminal courts convicted him for drinking and driving. Game over. Easy case. If one court determines the Defendant driver to be criminal liable, than naturally it follows that the civil courts will agree with one pre-established court determined conviction on criminal negligence.
So Penn State is the lambhorgini. Cha-Ching.
But why on earth would an attorney, who touts herself to be the “Chief Law Enforcement Officer” and “Top District Attorney for the Commonwealth” ever be colluding with a civil lawyer, who is likely about to sue – round about – the county and it’s public taxpayer funded institution? If she is representing the voters, or the Piazza’s, whatever could be her interest in that?
The press, and again, it was – after all – an election year.
So of course, she cooperated with Tom Kline, he likely referred her some donors for her campaign, or made some promises. Maybe he handed her a suitcase full of cash. In return, she stirred the flames – upped the charges – looking for any and every reason, to at each and every turn, tarnish the reputation and characters of the Defendants well before a Judge could even rule on the charges. Like a pawn, she did and said whatever he asked, because after all the Piazzas were her golden ticket – and again – It was election year.
She wasn’t looking to apply any justice, she was out for the county. And this is where the prosecutorial oath of silence applies.
Tom Kline didn’t care about her, he could give a damn about the media (unless it were to bring him more money). Tom Kline had no interest in protecting Centre County or Penn State; in fact, Tom Kline had no ethical obligation or duty to do either. He was doing his job, which was setting up the stage for the second biggest lawsuit Penn State will ever see. The first biggest, of course, was Sandusky. But we cannot fault Kline, that’s what civil lawyers do.
The Draw of the Cameras, Attention and the Pressure of an Election Year….
- Anonymous public statements by prosecutors about pending and impending cases, the court observed, undermine the integrity, fairness, and objectivity of the criminal justice system. Indeed, public statements on-the-record can be easily evaluated. Statements off-the-record cannot.
- As noted above, prosecutors are limited in what they can say about a case. The media, of course, are not so limited. Prosecutors therefore have the ability to evade prohibitions on prejudicial speech by leaking . An information. to..the media that may, indeed, prejudice persons who either are targets of an investigation or defendants in current prosecutions. Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system, if candid, would acknowledge that prosecutors leak information to the media, and do it often. To be sure, leaking secret information is not only unethical but sometimes it violates criminal statutes, as when prosecutors reveal secret grand jury information.
So How Inappropriate was her Behavior in the Media? And what are the Potential Consequences of this type of Prosecutorial Misconduct and Abuse?
- Prosecutors occasionally appear on TV programs as law enforcement “experts” ostensibly to educate the public about the criminal justice system and ongoing criminal trials and investigations. When speaking about current criminal trials a prosecutor must ensure that her commentary does not risk prejudicing a specific criminal case by discussing the specific merits of an ongoing criminal prosecution or investigation, although a prosecutor may in a rare case address a “manifest injustice [about which]the prosecutor is reasonably well-informed.” AND Presumably a prosecutor would be allowed to criticize a judge for excluding a defendant’s confession on dubious legal grounds, a prosecutor’s suppression of exculpatory evidence, or a defense attorney’s decision not to call the defendant as a witness.
- A prosecutor is prohibited from making public statements about pending cases that he knows or should know have a “substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an [adjudicative proceeding]” or have a “substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”The rules identify several subjects that are more likely than not to have a materially prejudicial impact on future proceedings in a case. These subjects are generally seen as creating a risk of prejudice without serving any legitimate or necessary law enforcement function.
Also see below:
- Prosecutors occasionally make public statements critical of judges and the justice system. Ethics rules address such statements indirectly. Prosecutors are cautioned that any statements about the judiciary and the justice system, especially statements expressing disagreement, should be “respectful.” However, some public statements about judges and the justice system cross the line, and prosecutors have been cited by professional disciplinary bodies for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Prosecutors know that they occupy a special status with the public as the embodiment of law and order. They know that in contrast to criticism by defense lawyers, a prosecutor’s criticism of judges and the justice system is likely to carry far more weight with the public, and affect adversely the public’s confidence in the judiciary, and the administration of justice generally. A prosecutor’s extrajudicial statements about the conduct of judges and the operation of the justice system may be so irresponsible and prejudicial to the administration of justice as to warrant disciplinary sanctions. Needless to say, a prosecutor’s attack on judges makes for good press and may enhance a prosecutor’s image as an aggressive crusader against lawless judges. EMPHASIS ADDED.
Prosecutors are further prohibited from discussing case theory, case strategy, evidence. They are not to go out and hold a press conference on the evidence discovered in a case prior to the Judge ruling in a pre-liminary hearing on what evidence will be admissible in trial.
Even if it is was part of a grand jury report, the discussion of the evidence in the media should be non biased. The American Justice system does not conduct trial by media, it conducts trial by court of law. So these hysterical press conferences also put this case in jeopardy.
A verdict that disappoints a prosecutor may be an occasion for the prosecutor to criticize the jury or the judge, or comment on deficiencies in the justice system, and suggest that the defendant improperly beat the system. The prosecutor in this way saves face.
However, a prosecutor should not make statements critical of a verdict, whether by a judge or jury. Given the prosecutor’s authority and prestige, such remarks risk improperly influencing jurors in other cases to which they may sit.
Because of these press conferences, and these ethical violations by the nutty prosecutor, then grounds for an appeal of conviction are laid out like a trail of bread crumbs. This means convictions can be overturned, and will have to be re-tried, at the cost to tax payers, because Stacy Parks Miller wanted to be on TV during election season.
Think about that. Frank Fina engaged in misconduct during the Sandusky case, jeopardizing the convictions of the first jury trial. Now he has a lawyer appealing for a re-trial. And who wants the spectacle of that scandal to replay again in Centre County. Nobody wants that attention.
- A prosecutor in his advocacy role is allowed to make limited public statements about pending cases.1″ These matters include:(a)[Defendant’s] name, age, residence, occupation, family status, and [other background information]; (b) The substance or text of the charge; …(d) The identity of the investigating and arresting agency, [and] the length and scope of the investigation; (e) The circumstances .. .[of] the arrest, including the time and place of arrest,… resistance,- pursuit, possession and use of weapons, and a description of items seized at the time of arrest.
- It is unethical for prosecutors to promote themselves and their office, either in campaigning for office or in other public statements, by claiming that the sentences that have been imposed in prosecuted cases demonstrate that the prosecutor has been an effective and aggressive official. Such statements are inconsistent with a prosecutor’s role as a minister of justice, whereby a prosecutor has a duty to maintain an attitude of fairness and objectivity, rather than suggest an attitude motivated by vengeance and retribution. Rather, the prosecutor should seek to ensure that the sentencing process is done in a fair and equitable.
- Andrew Thomas, the Maricopa County prosecutor, publicly accused judges of lawless, biased, and corrupt conduct. 162 A flow of press releases repeatedly charged that a judicial faction was dodging the law and demonstrating a disregard for the will of the people and engaged in a conspiracy to thwart his investigations into judges and other public officials. Without any supporting evidence, Thomas brought a civil RICO complaint against 14 persons, including four judges. Employing an amalgam of-invective,-.insinuation-and diatribe, he charged the– defendants with a massive conspiracy to engage in judicial and official misconduct, including extortion, bribery, hindering prosecution, and obstructing government administration. Thomas had the complaint dismissed a few weeks after he filed it, claiming, falsely, that the United States Department of Justice would be investigating the matter.
Does that sound familiar? Former Centre County Prosecutor Parks-Miller also sued the County Judges, in edition to the County Commissioners, a private citizen and several members of the bar. Parks-Miller’s SLAPP suit was also summarily dismissed, and famously called “inartful” and “vitriolic” by Judge Matthew Brann. Bruce Castor signed off on it as her atttorney and filed it for her on her behalf, but the penmanship was hers. Andrew Thomas of Maricopa County also impulsively fired off like that.
I rather like Judge Brann and his “artful” mastery of subtleties. “Inartful” and “vitriolic” is a polite way of saying she was full of psychotic rage, and he found her flat out crazy.
- A recent example is the manner in which Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, conceived and carried out his media “brinksmanship” relative to the defendant’s right to a fair trial. 20 1 Bharara launched his extrajudicial “blitz” by leaking to the media a “35-page, single- spaced sealed Complaint charging …[Sheldon] Silver, the then- Speaker of the New York Assembly, with …fraud, conspiracy, and extortion.” 20 2 After the complaint was unsealed, and Silver was arrested and processed, Bharara held a press conference in which he castigated the widespread corruption in Albany (“show-me-the-money culture of Albany”) and offered gratuitously his subjective opinion of Silver’s character (dishonest, “greedy,” and engaged in with an overabundance of greed, cronyism, and self-dealing”).20 6 Bharara followed the release with similar comments via Twitter.20 7 The following day-the timing was deliberate-Bharara gave a speech at a local law school covered massively by the media, in which he lampooned Silver, ridiculed his conduct as “business as usual.”20 8 Finally, a few weeks later, Bharara gave an interview with a journalist in which after noting the importance of public corruption prosecutions he added: “
When you see somebody who’s been charged with (and,. we’ve convicted many, many people before this case)-and you see somebody who has basically sold his office to line his pockets and compromised his integrity and ethics with respect to how to make decisions on all those issues I mentioned that affect people’s lives, that’s a big problem. And it’s a big problem for democracy. 20 9″
In case anyone missed the press conference, Bharara issued an inflammatory press release highlighting these same themes (charges against Silver part of the “culture of corruption” in Albany; charges against Silver “go to the very core of-what ails Albany”;204 “Politicians are supposed to be on the people’s payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interests they do favors for[;]”205 Silver represents a “lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of principle joined “secret self-reward” cleverly and cynically).
- Other public attacks by prosecutors against judges may be so reckless as to constitute conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Thus, a New York prosecutor issued a “news alert” that publicly attacked a judge who, according to the prosecutor, during a. trial on charges of sexual misconduct, in his robing room, ordered’ the victim to get down on the floor and show the position she was T in when she was attacked.
- As it turned out, the allegation against the judge was false, and the prosecutor’s public release of the allegation was unwarranted and unprofessional, and properly subject to discipline.1 68 Similarly, a prosecutor’s public attack on judges for not being aggressive enough may constitute misconduct, as in one case where the prosecutor publicly, and falsely, branded a judge’s decision as a “get-out-of-jail-free card for every criminal defendant in New York State.”
The Centre Daily Times responded to the Piazza case recently. They didn’t “COVER” the facts, they – very unprofessionally – asserted their inappropriate narrative into a story that should have been covered fairly. I think the exact line (in reference to Judge Sinclair’s ruling on the Piazza case, that “Cantorna stated he had an ethical conflict, which he has yet to disclose.” I suspect that 8–10 word colloquial sentence was tossed in there by now “Editor” Lori Falce, because I’ve watched Pallatio – and he doesn’t write like that. It’s a low blow, is that because now the CDT isn’t getting press releases? So they actually have to show up for hearings or read the police blotter, and ask questions? Or is that because Bret Pallatio is the new golden boy and stealing the limelight with his “wet around the ears” new excited journalist qualities, and want to investigate. All in all, I’d let Bret keep doing what he is doing, aside from the occasional typo (which Editor is supposed to catch), his coverage is just better.)
CDT was inferring that Cantorna had some manufactured conflict because he didn’t want to step in any sh*t and Piazza case was a seriously stinky pile of a sh*t of case that was inherited mess. Overcharged and a ridiculously unethical unethical prosecution from the very beginning.
What I pointed out to the Centre Daily Times, was several fold.
One, Cantorna’s administration (like Krasner’s) never comments publicly on cases pending any final dispositions.
Secondly, Bernie sought expert opinion from the State Board of ethics and recieved that written opinion by a board of lawyers stating there was a conflict. In the written response of the Ethics Committee, they (notably) also did not SPECIFICALLY articulate in detail any conflict of opinion. Perhaps, why? Because it was a pending case, and it would have potentially biasing to a fair and impartial jury for any to site any conflict of interest, because Cantorna – now a public figure – could have potentially swayed the outcome of the unnamed Defendant in which the Ethic’s Committee opined it was prudent for Cantorna to recuse himself, due to the conflict of interest (which Cantorna was concerned about in the first place).
Third, and most importantly, until the Centre Daily Times decides to get off their smug bums and do some investigative journalism, then I don’t want to hear it. Did they send a “Right to Know Request” or a “Open Records Request” to the state Ethics Committee or to the Centre County? Did they receive a rejection? Maybe, it would be unethical for Cantorna to disclose that exact conflict while this – clearly – very public case, is still pending in front of a trial court without any final disposition. So until Falce wants to do her homework or lay the groundwork for any investigative journalism, I think it would serve her well to leave the narrative outside of the Centre Daily Times articles, and try and be an objective reporter. Quit it with the editorials and act like professionals.
With such a favorable outlet for their public commentary, prosecutors know that they can control the information they wish to disseminate, shape the way the media and ultimately the public views the disclosures.And if a prosecutor chooses to divulge secret, confidential, or privileged information to a friendly reporter, the prosecutor is confident that given their close relationship, as well as the privilege protecting news sources, the prosecutor’s identity will never be revealed.
I hope criminal justice reform remains on the minds of the people in Centre County, and I hope the disciplinary board cracks the notorious characters who need accountability. I hope the Supreme Court Justices rule in favor of protecting the public from rogue prosecutors and judges, and cleans up the mess that is Centre County.
The unsited quotes in this blog can be found in a Pace University School of Law Review Journal here: CITATION
*A COPY OF THIS BLOG WILL BE SENT FOR CONSIDERATION TO THE PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY BOARD FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION. ADDITIONAL COPIES ARE BEING SUPPLIED TO THE INNOCENCE PROJECT, THE PETEY GREENE PROGRAM, THE JEFFREY DESKOVIC FOUNDATION, LARRY KRASNER’S OFFICE, THE CENTER FOR PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT, THE PENNSYLVANIA A.C.L.U., AND A NUMBER OF OTHER ORGANIZATIONS WHOSE MISSIONS ARE TO PROMOTE MEANINGFUL CHANGE WITHIN THE PA JUSTICE SYSTEM.
Thank you for your readership, hope you enjoyed.