On Feb. 8, former Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller was suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day. Miller was found to have committed three separate types of misconduct, all occurring while she was the top law enforcement officer in the county: improper ex parte contact with judges; making false and misleading statements about this contact in court hearings; and creating a Facebook page for the purpose of covertly investigating witnesses, suspects and defendants. Miller’s case gave the court and the board an opportunity to reassert one of their fundamental disciplinary principles: lawyers who violate the Rules of Professional Conduct while in public office cause greater harm to the profession by violating the rules and require more discipline.
The report and recommendation drafted by the Disciplinary Board and adopted by the court presents an opportunity for a mini course on the disciplinary process, its procedures and pitfalls. The report also provides a warning that, even when the court has not previously ruled on the specific misconduct at issue, that will not save the attorney from discipline, especially if other authority has provided notice that the misconduct violates the rules.
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