Another Day, Another Judge, More Inappropriate Behavior

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We’re only two months into 2020, but already it feels like there’s a cottage industry surrounding judges accused of wildly inappropriate behavior. The latest story is about Broome County, New York Judge Richard Miller II who works in family court. In a recent decision, the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has recommended that Miller be fired for a “pattern of inappropriate behavior.”

As has become de rigueur when talking about judicial misconduct cases, included in the “inappropriate” behavior is harassing and sexist comments. As reported by ABA Journal:

Miller also made “extremely inappropriate and sexist remarks” to the deputy chief clerk, the commission said. The deputy chief clerk testified that after a luncheon, where employees brought dishes to share, the judge told her that he liked her food and that “if I knew you could also cook, I would have gone for the widow.” He said he was also a widow, according to the commission.

In another incident, the deputy chief clerk said she was hot and needed to use a fan. The judge, who was in her office, told her that “it’s nice to know I still have that effect on you.” He later commented on her appearance in a third incident, telling her “you look really hot in that outfit,” and that she “should always wear that outfit.”

When confronted with complaints about his behavior, the commission reports Miller was under the mistaken impression it was the burden of those to whom he made inappropriate comments to tell him the comments were inappropriate as opposed to on him to, you know, not make sexist comments:

“Compounding his misconduct, respondent appears to be under the misapprehension that the women he denigrated and to whom he made the sexist comments had an obligation to tell him that they did not approve of his comments,” according to the commission. “To the contrary, it was incumbent upon respondent to not make sexist comments to a court employee. Similarly, it was also his responsibility to avoid behaving discourteously toward court employees.”

Plus, the commission found that Miller asked his secretary do work unrelated to her official duties and he failed to disclose personal income on tax returns and court records.

When deciding to recommend termination for Miller, as opposed to a censure, because Miller had been censured before, in 2002, the commission said, “Under these circumstances, if respondent were to be censured again and allowed to remain on the bench, we believe public confidence in the courts and the judicial disciplinary process would be undermined.”

headshotKathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

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