Legal Ethics

Fla. Lawyer Facing 3rd DUI, Has Been Accused of Drinking on the Job, But Has No Disciplinary Record


A Florida lawyer was charged over the weekend with driving under the influence.

It’s the third time Karen Miller has faced a DUI charge, WINK reports.

Meanwhile, questions were raised by the prosecutor and the judge, according to a trial transcript, about whether she had been drinking during a client’s second-degree murder trial earlier this year. The judge declared a recess for approximately half a day, at one point, to allow Miller time to recover and return to court the following day “in the right frame of mind,” the station reports.

Nonetheless, Miller’s defense helped her client get a conviction last month on a lesser charge, manslaughter with a firearm, according to Naples Daily News account of the trial.

“I really hoped I would get a not-guilty verdict, but this is the next best thing,” Miller told the newspaper Oct. 6, after her client was convicted by a Lee County jury.

She declined repeated requests from WINK for comment.

WINK says it reviewed personnel records of Miller’s work in former years, when she was an assistant public defender, and discovered the incident earlier this year is not the first time suspected alcohol consumption has interfered with her trial work.

In 2009, a judge declared a mistrial because she failed to show up in court to represent her client, the article says. A workplace investigation determined that co-workers had found her “apparently passed out sitting at her desk … incoherent, slurring her words beyond comprehension … saying ‘I’m not that drunk.’ ” A colleague drove her home.

Miller was terminated from that job after she was pulled over, en route to work, on suspicion of driving under the influence, WINK reports.

However, Miller has no history of attorney disciplinary action, WINK reports, and the Florida Bar says she has not been the subject of any disciplinary complaints.

“Everyone has the ability to report someone, but no one has the duty. Not even the judge,” professor Ryan Alford of Ave Maria School of Law told WINK.

Miller is currently seeking election as a state-court judge in Lee County.

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