The board’s recommendation, which was filed Thursday, is an increase over the three-month suspension that the hearing committee recommended in the case. The state Supreme Court must make the ultimate decision regarding Parks Miller’s disciplinary case, but if the high court imposes the lengthier suspension, it will add more than a few months, since attorneys suspended for longer than one year need to petition for reinstatement before they can begin practicing again.
Parks Miller faces charges stemming from ex parte communications she had in seven matters, most of which involved retired Centre County Judge Bradley Lunsford, as well as charges stemming from the creation of a fictitious Facebook account, which made friend requests to defendants and friended the pages of several establishments suspected of selling bath salts.
According to the disciplinary board’s 45-page recommendation, the Facebook issue raised a novel question in Pennsylvania of whether a prosecutor violates disciplinary rules by “engaging in a covert activity through the use of social media.”
Although the hearing committee had determined that the conduct was not a violation but only showed “lack of care” by Parks Miller, the disciplinary board said the conduct rose to the level of a violation.
“[Parks Miller] knowingly created a fake social media persona, provided access to a fake Facebook page to her staff, and indicated that the page should be used to ‘masquerade’ and ‘snoop’ around on Facebook,” the filing said. “The Facebook page created by [Parks Miller] and disseminated to her staff was fake, and constituted fraudulent and deceptive conduct.
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