Unraveling the manipulations and mistruths of Parks Miller is truly an archaeological endeavor. While Chuznicki’s initial petition for discipline covered a number of issues there are a remaining number that remain unaddressed, and the residual contempt by those hurt by her prosecutorial misconduct is clearly visible across social media.
And as Cantorna’s administration “digs out” of the backload of cases, out of the rubble seems to emerge more and more horrifying mistakes and incidents of gross misconduct.
Perhaps the grossest instance of misconduct discovered in the post-Parks-Miller era, was the case of Anthony Zydney, wherein a Judge was forced to dismiss 836 counts of child pornography due to prosecutorial misconduct. The State College man purportedly had one of the “most extensive” and “most disturbing” collections of child pornography that a seasoned detective had ever seen first hand (A stunning allegation, given he is from Centre County, Land of Sandusky). “I am in an impossible position here,” Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw said. “We have evidence of a very serious crime. That evidence, in my estimation as an experienced litigator, would be more than adequate. That evidence has been suppressed because of misconduct by a prior district attorney.” CITATION
Apparently Parks-Miller, eager to make convictions, recklessly authorized the State College Detective to enter into what is called a “quid pro quo” agreement, meaning in latin: “Something for something.” The quid pro quo involved a deal between the former District Attorney and the Defendant, which was “I will only charge you with one charge if you come clean with us, and turnover your computer, electronic devices, provide passwords, etc.”
In a terrible hurry to get as many cases involving abuses of children in front of the media before election day, she had thought this was going to be another cheap conviction she could waive in front of the media. Low and behold, they uncovered one of the most disgusting child pornography collections the detective testified that he had probably ever seen in his career.
Clearly this mistake was egregious: “There was one count filed, and then I got a look at how extensive this pornography collection was and how shocking it was and we requested the officer to have the entire drive analyzed and the whole thing be charged appropriately,” Parks Miller said at Zydney’s preliminary hearing on Nov. 18, 2015. “It came to our office and we were like, ‘Oh no. This guy needs the appropriate set of charges like everybody gets.'” CITATION
Sure that rhetoric sounds great, but that’s not the way the law works. Prosecutors are not authorized to strike immunity deals or other sorts of deals with criminal defendants and then turn around and withdraw them. As a result of this “oops”, none of the evidence was admissible. This was rushed, sloppy, inexcusably reckless work, that resulted in a pedophile – now living free – among the parks and schools in Park Forest. Of course the cops will keep an eye on him, but the chance of him ever going to jail for that enormous child pornography collection (which purportedly included sado masochistic images of children) is no longer an option. Instead of a state prison sentence, he is enjoying the tree lined streets and freedom of Park Forest, not even being required to register for Megan’s Law.
This mistake was serious and dangerous, leaving a small community opened up to a child predator.
Parks Miller noted the mistake immediately, and hastily tried to cover it up, appealing to Judge Tom Kistler last year. “Although detective Martin cannot bind the Centre County District Attorney’s office with promises as to charging decisions, the prosecution cannot then use evidence obtained as a direct result of those promises against the defendant. Therefore, the court finds that the defendant’s statements were not voluntary and must be suppressed,” former President Judge Thomas Kistler said in a notice of appeal ruling on May 4, 2016. “By ordering suppression of this evidence, the court has put defendant back in the same position as he would have been had he not spoken to detective Martin. CITATION
Naturally if there was no admissible evidence of a crime, it is the duty of the defense lawyer to file a motion to dismiss the charges. No charges can be sustained without substantiative evidence. As such, Lisko filed a motion to dismiss the charges on March 19 due to a lack of evidence.
Panicked, and clearly aware of her mistake, Parks Miller filed a petition for allowance of appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which was denied on Jan. 3. In short, the higher court, the supreme court supported Kistler’s previous ruling.
When the hot mess came across the desks of the current administration – I imagine – they were sickened and disgusted by the reckless and dangerous and junior varsity mistake. They too were researching legal loopholes, and trying to find a means to argue the admission of the evidence substantiating the 836 child pornography charges. Ultimately their hands were tied by two rulings and general rules of criminal procedure with specifically govern these sort of agreements prosecutors are free to enter into at their discretion: “I have no evidence to proceed in this criminal case,” McGraw said.
The Defendant walked out into a clear blue afternoon, and the Judges, prosecutors and members of the court looked on in utter shock and disgust.
Perhaps Parks-Miller had been too consumed with trips to vegas, attempting to win the election, suing the county and all her other sordid sort of activities she was known to engage in. But the mistake had real consequences, Anthony Zydney lives in the vicinity of parks and schools, in the bedroom community of Park Forest, where kids ride their bikes and play flashlight tag all summer long.
Sure Disciplinary Board Prosecutor Anthony Chuznicki came across with a lighter demand, but what is going on behind the scenes is not stated. The investigation continues. As Bernie Cantorna continues to handle the “back-log” of cases, he is ethically responsible for reporting incidents of misconduct that he discovers or are reported by any victim. In other words, there are still some rocks that are being overturned, and plenty of disgusting behavior that is still being turned over to the appropriate disciplinary body. If you think for an instance this is something that Bernie Cantorna will “overlook,” or evade his duty to report, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention for the past three years.
Cantorna was the one who uncovered the texting, which brought us here in the first place. And he uncovered the texting at the literal height of Parks-Miller’s popularity. She had screamed and protested hysterically, denying that she ever texted a judge. Low and behold, when the records surfaced, it was a matter of “Ooops I may have texted a judge, but it wasn’t about cases.” The manipulations and mistruths are literally that of a criminal mind. One thing that being the District Attorney had taught Parks-Miller was to be a seasoned and skilled and sophisticated liar.
The problem is that she had never banked on losing the election. Like she fought tooth and nail to keep right to know requests buried, else risk exposure of her misdeeds, she also fought hard to win the election. And now with the new administration, you find a pretty unprecedented level of transparency. As in Cantorna has nothing to hide, if you ask for it, he’ll turn it over, so long as it doesn’t violate CHIRA.
So you better bet Cantorna is cooperating and filling his ethical duties, that’s who we elected, and we elected a man of that quiet-honorable-do-the-right-thing character because he was the opposite of the corruption, malice-bent, self aggrandizing and self promoting prosecutor we had for years. We wanted someone more community minded, and centered on our needs as opposed to his own self promotion. We wanted someone we knew had the integrity to do the right thing, whether it might not be the most popular thing. We wanted someone with character.
Parks Miller cried foul: “He just wants my job.” What was seldom mentioned, is that Cantorna (as the County’s most successful Plaintiff’s lawyer) actually took a pay cut to run.
In Philadelphia, a renegade defense lawyer, Larry Krasner (known for habitually suing the police and for being apologeticless in his relentless onslaught of crooked prosecutors in Judges in Philadelphia), also took a pay cut to run. Both Cantorna and Krasner sort of stepped up reluctantly out of civic duty or moral obligation, knowing they were going to put their families in the limelight. Also knowing they could fail, also knowing that people might not be ready for their message. And the mess Krasner is cleaning up looks like a garbage dump compared to that smear of dogshit Parks Miller left down the center of our County.
Krasner was vying to fill the shoes of former District Attorney (now inmate) Seth Williams. And Cantorna was stepping up to a war-torn community, who was so disgusted and sickened and consumed with a lack of faith in their justice system after the loss of two judges, and the state of affairs. Both had uphill battles.
Krasner, a white guy, after winning the election held a town hall. It was likely against the recommendations of his friends and campaign managers. The soft spoken white guy, with goggle glasses, walked into the angriest room of black lives matter activists and people who were just royally pissed off after having put their faith and confidence in Seth Williams, and then watching Williams betray that trust in the most horrific matter. When Krasner stepped into that crowd, that crowd was prepared to eat him alive. When he exited, they were hanging onto his every word.
I’m sure his closest confidents and campaign managers were standing in the recesses trying to talk some sense into Krasner, “No whitey, you don’t want to walk into that room, it’s an angry mob with pitchforks.” But Krasner, as we have seen in the national news, isn’t one to really listen to others. Krasner slips in and out of traffic lanes with the deftness of a taxi driver and pilots the Tesla past Temple University Hospital. In the backseat, a campaign staffer recites a few lines from the opening remarks Krasner’s about to give: This system has broken people, broken families, destroyed our public-school system. A system that is neither safe nor is it just. It’s a system that has discriminated against poor people and people who are black or brown in a systemic way. Krasner repeats the lines out loud, rhythmically, like a stage actor in the mirror before a show.
Krasner drives an electric car. It’s a gay purple one. He’s known for his easy demeanor, I guess if you’re in as many scrapes as he is, that easiness is cultivated in you. Krasner walked into an angry mob, and didn’t really argue with them. He listened, and answered. His answers didn’t seem scripted. The interrupting and jeering and sign waiving slowly subsided. The angry mob seemed riveted by the elderly man with the coke bottle glasses. Sure he wasn’t hip, he was sort of frumpled, but there was a coolness about him. A coolness that came from going head to head with the system for decades, and now facing and angry mob, nothing about it really shook him, or could shake him. He’d seen it all before, he’d defended people in pain like this, he had witnessed this pain for decades, and not only did he intricately understand the pain, and how those carrying it thought or reacted, he also had his own ideas about how to change it.
Cantorna is a quieter renegade, but I would imagine he does follow Krasner. The world is following Krasner, Krasner and Kim Oggs (a lesbian district attorney in Texas). People want to see change, and honesty in the criminal justice system. People want to see a new type of justice system that is actually serving the people and not themselves. People are educated now enough to look beyond conviction rates, because convictions in this system are easy to get. People want to see some substance.
While Philadelphia was aching for this when they elected Seth Williams, they were severely misled. When Centre County was seeking a liberal candidate who would be gentle with students, a progressive prosecutor, they were also misled. That betrayal of trust is something that has to be earned back by the next leadership, who was not responsible for that betrayal in the firstplace, but does serve as a face.
“(Stacy Parks Miller) made a conscious decision to run the risk of engaging in deceptive conduct, without sufficiently considering the implications of the conduct,” Disciplinary councilman Anthony 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.”
“Almost from the time you [Seth Williams] took office, you sold yourself to the parasites you surrounded yourself with,” Judge Michael Diamond said. “You humiliated the men and women of the District Attorney’s Office.”
Erik Olsen, the current chief deputy attorney general, testified that he was thrilled when Kane was elected and hoped she could root out what he believed had become a misogynistic culture in the Office of the Attorney General. Now, he described an office in ruin. He said Kane’s employees worked under stressful conditions and the constant fear not only that they were being watched, but that they’d be fired if they failed to express unconditional loyalty to Kane.“This has been the worst three years of my professional career,” he said, adding that she used “systemic firings” and “espionage” to create “a terror zone in this office.”– CITATION
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.”
But we could rehash the betrayals of these selfish and self aggrandizing, recalcitrant and ugly people all day long. Or we could lean forward. So what is next?
Bernie Cantorna has had a quieter entry than Krasner, but he is also a younger attorney and far more strategic, and sensitive to the pulse of this community. His Plaintiff’s attorney mentality and protective personality has been inflamed over the sad state of some of the victims, whose cases have been sitting untouched for years while Parks Miller played political games.
He took on the Cahill-Shadle case, a family who I have been following for quite sometime, and whose case was so severely neglected it literally made my blood boil to think of it. He likely has to call victims who haven’t heard from Centre County for months or years, and settle this kind of pre-existing contempt before he can begin the real work. I imagine knowing what I know, and reading all the extensive court pleadings and transcripts I’ve read on Cantorna, that this weighs heavily on his mind.
Krasner is taking a different route. Though Philadelphia is arguably sick in a different way then Centre County, there are some similarities. Krasner is focussing on over incarceration, and criminal justice reform. He recently condemned Judge Genece Brinkley in the Meek Mill case. He came out publicly and said “There is a direct correlation between reducing opioid deaths and legalizing marijuana.” He refuses to prosecute low level marijuana offenses, denying precedent set even by the purportedly “liberal” Josh Shapiro. The difference between Shapiro and Krasner? Shapiro is all talk and definately for sale if your rich, and Krasner made his money, doesn’t talk much, never apologizes and is not seeking to impress: He is looking for solutions, and doesn’t care who he pissed off, because his client is the Commonwealth.
What I would like to see in Centre County is a bit of Krasner. We don’t have the number of victims that Philadelphia has, and the crimes are not as severe. We have a system small enough where some good leadership can easily make a few tweaks and have it run well.
What I want to see in Centre County? A little more criminal justice reform. Let’s not prosecute low level marijuana offenses, lets wreak havoc over the bail system and change it so we don’t prey on impoverished people. Let’s squeak the rest of the assholes out, starting with Judge Kelly Gillette-Walker whose bail practices are draconian, and who is – without a doubt – one of the most idiotic, unequipted, politically motivated and cruel judges within the county.
Yes, the advocacy of the victims is good and necessary, but reading the last article on Cantorna, I heard echoes of Parks Miller with the victim this, victim that. I would argue to you that the role of a prosecutor is larger and bigger than protecting the victims or keeping the community safe. The prosecutor, functionally, can help make the system better, reduce incarceration, reduce drug use (by other means than incarceration) and generally make the community a better place.
Larry Krasner pissed off every Judge in Philadelphia, but he is a hurricane. If you are not with him, your against him. It’s not that he doesn’t care about victims, he just has the entire ecosystem in mind, which involves demanding his subordinate prosecutors reign back in their fire, and take a more broad and bigger picture weltenschung.
I spoke to Krasner camp once, “thank you, it’s people like you writing what you do is why change occurs.” Did he know about Parks-Miller (He thought this was funny actually) “What a mess!” Would Larry Krasner ever want to hear from Cantorna and share ideas….? He’d love to. Criminal justice reform is not a county problem or a county effort, it’s a national problem, and will take a lot of hands.
So in Centre County there are town halls are coming up regarding the opioid epidemic, community participation during periods of change is a crucial factor. We aren’t at the end of the rainbow quite burning the witch, there is important work to be done. I would hope to see Centre County and the Cantorna administration in line with Kim Oggs or Larry Krasner, as a leading force for change and a model for other small corrupt counties in Pennsylvania to view and see exactly what is possible.
Because that’s why we elect people like Krasner, or Oggs, or Cantorna….. Not because we want a continuation of the same, but because we want to see what is possible. Don’t disappoint us.
And my last point? Discovery and investigation continue, this might not be the last move of the disciplinary board…. Look out for Petition #2 against Parks-Miller.