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District Attorney Petitions Court for Investigating Grand Jury in Centre County

by on August 04, 2015 3:25 PM

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller had her name cleared of forgery allegations by a grand jury last week, and now she wants to bring an investigating grand jury to Centre County.

On Tuesday, Parks Miller submitted a petition to Centre County President Judge Thomas Kistler. She wants Kistler to appoint a supervising judge to form an investigating grand jury "to consider at least one unsolved murder, and a recent series of other cases the scope of which cannot be determined without the powers granted to a county investigating grand jury."

Last Friday, a statewide grand jury released a report that cleared Stacy Parks Miller of allegations that she had a forged a judge's signature. According to a news release from her office, this experience inspired Parks Miller to request a grand jury in Centre County after seeing how effective it was in her own case.

On Friday after the grand jury report was released, Parks Miller publicly called on the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General to conduct a criminal investigation into her former paralegal who made the forgery allegation as well as “anyone else who assisted, encouraged and supported her lies," specifically naming the Centre County Commissioners and the county solicitor.

However, Parks Miller says her request for an investigating grand jury in Centre County is not related to the now-disproved forgery allegations.

"The District Attorney is acutely aware that some persons may attempt to construe this development as an effort to intimidate her opponents in the recent controversy where she was falsely accused of the crime of forgery," the release states. "...The District Attorney has specific cases, and types of cases in mind to submit to the new County Investigating Grand Jury and has no intention of conducting any investigations relating to her own matters."

In the petition submitted to Judge Kistler, Parks Miller writes that the cases the grand jury may investigate could include drug trafficking, unsolved disappearances and corrupt organizations.

Although Parks Miller says in the news release that she does not plan to ask the grand jury to investigate the forgery allegations, she also says she would be willing to use a grand jury to investigate corruption in Centre County if the need arose.

"Should Centre County law enforcement officials become aware of allegations of political corruption at any level within Centre County unrelated to her specific case, DA Parks Miller will not hesitate to use the resources of the Investigating Grand Jury, if needed, ever mindful of the reputations of public officials who may be falsely accused of misconduct," the release reads.

When contacted by StateCollege.com, Parks Miller declined to comment on whether she was aware of any corruption allegations within the Centre County government. She also declined to offer further details about the cases she has mind for the grand jury, citing strict confidentiality restrictions.

Parks Miller says a grand jury is an important tool because it can compel people to testify without fear of retaliation and it can prevent collusion between potential defendants. She also says a grand jury can investigate allegations of wrongdoing without compromising the reputation of the accused in the event that they are innocent.

"The Grand Jury is a common tool across Pennsylvania," Parks Miller says in an email. "We will use it cautiously and only for appropriate cases where there are credible allegations of criminal conduct that lend themselves to best being investigated by a grand jury proceeding."

Judge Kistler says he is not aware of any other time since he began practicing law in Centre County in 1982 that a district attorney has requested a countywide grand jury. He says he needs to research the criteria for calling a grand jury and his responsibilities in the process, but says he will respond to the petition within the next ten days.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:55 p.m. to include comment from Judge Kistler. 



Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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