The disciplinary panel concurred with the prosecution this week, and stated a license suspension was warranted. What many people in Pennsylvania lack in perspective is that the disciplinary board seldom acts. Only in the most severe circumstances is action warranted. Take a step back and look at this in perspective: When Kathleen Kane was disbarred it was AFTER she was charged with FELONY/FELONIE(S). When Bill Higgins was DISBARRED, again it was after he was charged for sexually assaulting women while in office.
As a member of the legal community, I am ashamed to say it – but lawyers get away with murder in Pennsylvania before they get disbarred. For the most part it takes criminal charges before that board will act. Take for instance Karl Rominger who was a defense lawyer in the Sandusky lawyer. He misspent money out of an escrow account (pretty innocent, considering what Parks Miller was up to) and the disciplinary board let him alone until he got convicted.
CONVICTION = a DISCIPLINARY BOARD SUSPENSION.
For a long time I have said that the disciplinary board body and judicial conduct board should be composed of private citizens. The reason I have advocated for this is a result of the thousands of unanswered complaints and irresponsible lawyers in practice. Criminality should not be an ultimate reason for disbarrment. If private citizens sat on these boards and digested the thousands of complaints, this might be a different story.
It’s interesting, as I am pretty well traveled and familiar now, with other states. In Georgia, for example, a major judicial scandal went down about five years ago. The disciplinary board is not a last end, instead it is an enforcement body and a mechanism that inspires fear. This is healthy. For all of the complaints and foul crying about Kathleen Kane that were whispered for years, it took a criminal conviction to disbar her. I find it profoundly – very profoundly the opposite. Like an old Aunt Jammima you would meet in the grocery store line tells you haven’t been to church enough; when the disciplinary board writes you, they inspire a level a fear. The disciplinary board functions as a watchdog, instead of last resort: As in “did I fill out my taxes wrong? Yes ma’am I’ll fix it straight away,” or did someone complain about my advocacy, “Yes, Sir, here is the entire file and I’m available for an interview at your convenience.”
The level of fear that practicing Georgia lawyers have of the disciplinary bodies is very astounding to me, considering I come from Pennsylvania – where it’s a free for all. Occasionally I hear complaints about corruption, and it takes every nerve in me to withhold a smile.
As in, these people don’t know what corruption is. The instances of corruption here (after a scandal several years ago in the judiciary, they live in fear of their disciplinary boards). I recently campaigned for Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Jason Park. I liked him because he was Asian and highly educated, and there had never been a black person or Asian person elected to Superior Court Judge in Gwinnett County. Plus I am Asian ( a quarter, and nobody would ever guess it, but it counts). I got on the road with Jason Park. He was amazing, an assistant district attorney, he had IDEAS. He had ideas about racial equality. He printed out for the people canvassing for him the disciplinary board ethical rules and stapled it to the back of a script. I would say it hit me then: THESE PEOPLE have a fear of the disciplinary bodies in their state. I wouldn’t say paranoia is a bad thing. Sometimes we slow our cars down during a construction zone, I would liken such an attitude to the same thing.
And the disciplinary board or judicial conduct board in Georgia is zealous. You don’t even want a letter from them. That contradiction between Pennsylvania in Georgia astounded me. I remember writing the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board repeatedly about the former District Attorney. I went so far as to site the law. I wrote for months. It took a dismissed federal lawsuit wherein Judge Matthew Brann dismissed her case before the PA disciplinary board lifted their eyes. Even then it wasn’t a body to be feared, more like a nuissance. And facing a license suspension, Stacy Parks Miller has treated that board just so. A nuisance rather than anything to be taken seriously. I worked heavily with the prosecutor for Stacy Parks Miller at the disciplinary board, I pointed out specific cases. I insinuated that you must have complaints before, of course that information was confidential. The prosecutor was young and excited and wet around the ears, of course he was excited about his job. The problem, as he explained it to me, is that the PA Superior Court Judges ruled the decisions.
In Pennsylvania, the disciplinary bodies for lawyers or Judges are not entities to be feared. They lack power of enforcement and they are chock full of lawyers (with sordid pasts) who couldn’t make it in private practice themselves. When an individual citizen is (excuse my language) f#cked by a lawyer in private practice, they have almost no recourse. As in this is a body of individuals that can operate with almost no consequence — unless they do something extremely serious.
Lawyers know this, and have little respect or healthy fear. This is clearly exhibited by the words of Stacy Parks Miller, who boldly announced after a 3 month license suspension reccomendation that she would be “opening up a private practice in a few weeks.” Never mind that you can’t open up a practice without having a license.
Further: The disciplinary board, soft like they have always been, was reluctant to prosecute her since she lacked a criminal conviction. I want to specifically point out however, that her ethical violations were so eggregious that even without a criminal conviction they pursued. And the audacity of announcing you are opening up a private practice on the same day that the disciplinary board announces they are suspending your license should strike a nerve with the rest of us non-lawyers.
Governor Wolf told me when Bruce Castor was momentarily an attorney general to not worry, and this wasn’t going to last long. Governor Wolf, or for that matter, no governor can protect us from some idiotic lawyer. “She has a self imposed sentence”, says the prosecutor at the disciplinary board, “we are aware she is still practicing law, but there is nothing in writing as evidence.” — Did you interview the alleged “clients?”
What I’ve noticed is that the State College Law Enforcement Community is strong and steady. There are men and women who have seen eras through Madiera and Gricar and are still on the force. These were the same men to say…. ‘ there is something seriously wrong here’ — even before we noticed. They infiltrate the community and deal with the DA’s office all day long, and they are not lawyers. These are the same cops who started communicating with me that told me that any private practice is going to be a fail. Parks Miller filed her license after losing election to have a property on Atherton by prominent state college family as her office space. That prominent family immediately complained.
I am not a Bernie Cantorna “BOT”, I might be a Larry Krasner BOT (I LOVE HIM). And I want to believe the cops that any activity going on in a private practice is going to be reputable and honest — but given the history of Brady violations and wrongful convictions and just plain hysteria, it’s hard to imagine this level of hysteria is going to reinsert itself into the Centre County legal community. Mind you, now I am removed from that community, and live and work in Atlanta, Georgia. But I have seen the aftermath, and after effects, I have seen first hand what effect corrupt prosecutors can have on individual lives.
Her words stick with me, I sat through so many court hearings and saw so many performnaces. I know all these actors better than I would like. Her words stick with me, if I could sum them up during the election “he defends rapists,” “he defends pedophiles,” so I find a level of irony yet still (and anxiety) as she markets herself for doing the same.
I speak to law enforcement, (non-lawyers) and they say ” now we got this under control” and “nobody will hire her.” Still I read the page, more out of delight in the fall, rather than curiousity, and I don’t believe the police. What I will tell you, is that she is consistently under-estimated. The ability of one corrupt government official to destroy lives is a special talent.
So the idea of private practice is laughed at and scoffed, “she’ll starve” (former chief of police). Wait for it, she got along this far. And I get regular updates. I wasn’t this embedded in Centre County politics without making any connections.
She is appealing her lawsuit against the county. Law Enforcement relates: “There are giant bags under her eyes, you don’t have to worry about this.” They say her head looks like a small ball of wax on top of a large body and she walks in wild eyed.
They say she will never open a private practice in this town. I think what I have always thought: “Don’t you ever underestimate people and their propensity to be selfish or do wrong.”
I look at the line of bodies and wrong, because bad prosecutors do wrong. What wrongful convictions result in are prison time, which result in time. And if there is one thing in this life you can’t get back, it’s time.
In that respect, I have learned a lot from this walking sociopath (jailing innocent people, revoking work release, charging excessively). I have learned a lot from this person who takes pleasure and victory in the misery of others. I have learned that there is no limit to the depth of evil. It might sound strange but now I pay attention, now I volunteer for programs like the Georgia re-entry project: NOW I LOOK TWICE.
This next administration is hyper conscious, and hyper vigilant. Their stumbling blocks are relying on the work that was done before them, which is inherently unreliable in its nature.
And so should you. Just because they got elected does not make them good. A single person can be good or bad, and that integrity can effect the course of many people’s lives. Prosecutorial discretion is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly. One day it could be you or a member of your family. Compassionate intelligence in offices such as those is not a luxury, it’s plain essential for a functioning community.