Judge should be fired for ‘sexist remarks’ and other misconduct, commission finds
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A New York family court judge who engaged in a “pattern of inappropriate behavior” toward female court employees should be fired, the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined.
In a 27-page decision filed last month, the commission also condemned Broome County Judge Richard Miller II for asking his secretary to perform services unrelated to her official duties and for failing to disclose personal income from his legal work and rental properties in official court records and on tax returns.
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Miller, who was admitted to practice law in New York in 1994, served in other judicial roles before moving into his current position in 2015.
According to the commission, a court assistant who was assigned to Miller’s courtroom reported to the deputy chief clerk that the judge had berated her for working too slowly and screamed at her in the courtroom. When the judge discovered that the court assistant had complained about his “discourteous and demeaning behavior,” he filed a complaint against her.
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.”
Miller contended that both women should have told him that his behavior made them uncomfortable, the commission said.
“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.”
Miller also violated the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct when he allowed his court secretary to write a letter regarding unsigned checks for legal work that he had performed before becoming a full-time judge, as well as when he failed to report income from extrajudicial activities on financial reports that he was required to complete as a judge, the commission said.
“Respondent, who took the bench in 1996, is an experienced judge who should be fully familiar with the rules,” the commission said.
It also noted that a 2002 determination censuring Miller found that he had violated the rules in 13 different cases.
“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,” the commission said.
While the majority of the 10-person commission ruled that Miller should be removed from the bench, two members said that even though he had committed misconduct, he should only be censured.
His term expires in December 2024.