Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ex-Judge Banned From Office for Life by Indiana High Court

by David McAfee

A former Indiana superior court judge received a lifetime ban from holding judicial office after the state’s High Court ruled that he engaged in misconduct while in office by commingling his court duties with his political campaign.

Patrick Miller was a judge for the Adams Superior Court when he hired an unnamed employee for the county drug court in 2015. After he announced his 2020 campaign for reelection, the employee worked on Miller’s campaign while in the courthouse and during her regular hours. Miller never explained that there were rules about working for the court while working on a campaign, or about working on a campaign while in the courthouse.

Miller also discussed providing a campaign sign to a defendant while wearing his robe and seated at the bench, and later did so. Miller nevertheless lost his reelection bid.

Miller and the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications agreed that the misconduct violated multiple rules, including a rule prohibiting judges from using court staff in a campaign for judicial office.

Because Miller had been publicly repirmanded for an earlier infraction, his sentence here was enhanced, and it was agreed that the lifetime judicial service ban and another public reprimand was appropriate. Miller was also taxed costs of $1,497.

The Supreme Court of Indiana approved the discipline Jan. 21.

Miller represented himself.

Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush wrote the unanimous opinion.

The case is In the Matter of Patrick Ryan Miller, Ind., No. 21S-JD-00513, 1/21/22.

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