Jeff Davis Parish Judge Removed From Office

February 16, 2007

Reported by: Associated Press

Jefferson Davis Parish Judge Wendell Miller has been removed from office after the State Supreme Court declined to reconsider an order forcing him from the bench.

Miller faced a list of ethical violations that included handling his secretary's divorce case while in an affair with the woman and having weekly sexual liaisons with her in his chambers.

The Supreme Court ordered on Jan. 26 that Miller step down, but he had remained on the bench pending a request for a rehearing, which the justices denied Thursday.

The Supreme Court appointed retired Judge Anne Simon to fill Miller's seat pending a special election to called by the Governor's Office.

Miller, a former district attorney and Jennings City Court judge, was serving his second term as 31st Judicial District judge.

He was the only judge serving Jeff Davis Parish.

Miller had admitted to many of the scandalous allegations against him but had argued that removal from the bench was too harsh a penalty.

The judge's attorneys had asked instead for a lengthy suspension.

That argument found an audience with Justice Jeanette Knoll, who in a dissenting opinion wrote that she believed suspension was a more-appropriate punishment.

Knoll wrote that she believed Miller's violations were serious but not as bad as other judicial conduct cases that have resulted in less-severe punishment.

Knoll also voted to grant Miller a new hearing on his removal, but the majority decided not to revisit the case.

Many of the allegations against the judge were made public when his former secretary filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in 2003 after a sour end to a nine-year affair.

She had alleged that Miller threatened to fire her if she did not continue to have sex with him. Miller denied the allegations in the lawsuit, which the state paid $50,000 to settle.

A special election for Miller's seat is expected this fall.