Memorial event to honor the legacy of Brooklyn justice William Miller
The Kings County Criminal Court and the Kings County Criminal Court Bar Association are gearing up to host a special memorial event in honor of the late Justice William “Bill” Miller at the courthouse at 120 Schermerhorn St. on Friday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m.
After dedicating almost half a century to the Brooklyn legal community, Miller’s legacy as a staunch advocate for fairness in the justice system endures.
“All of us who appeared before Judge Miller were always struck by his exceptional compassion and empathy,” Christopher Wright, immediate past president of the KCCBA, told the Eagle at Judge Miller’s death. “He brought thought and care to every decision, treating all lawyers and litigants with dignity. He will be deeply missed by our community.”
Justice Miller’s illustrious career began as a prosecutor and spanned over six decades, comprising 12 years at the DA’s Office and 36 years on the bench. As he once told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Miller always aimed to ensure that the legal system remained “fair and humane.” For him, “Due process is more than words. The process is more important than guilt or innocence.”
Raised in Brooklyn, Miller’s ties to the borough are deep-rooted. He attended James Madison High School and briefly left Brooklyn for law school at Boston University. But his love for Brooklyn drew him back, where he soon began his career at the DA’s Office in 1969. The system, at the time, was largely influenced by political connections. But with the election of Eugene Gold as district attorney, the focus shifted towards a merit-based approach, and Miller quickly became a prominent figure.
In the 1970s, Miller made significant strides combating police corruption, leading to the indictment of 21 police officers in a landmark case. His relentless pursuit of justice saw him rise to the position of chief assistant district attorney by 1980.
However, Miller’s dedication wasn’t limited to the DA’s Office. In 1983, urged by Robert Keating, he transitioned to the judiciary when appointed by Mayor Ed Koch to the Criminal Court. Even though initially assigned to Staten Island due to his close ties with the DA’s Office, Miller quickly returned to Brooklyn. By 1986, he replaced Keating as the supervising judge, a role he held for an unprecedented 28 years.
Throughout his tenure, Miller championed innovative programs and reforms, like the Red Hook Community Court, emphasizing treatment and community service over incarceration.
His move to the Supreme Court in 2013 marked yet another milestone. Miller, with his vast experience and commitment to justice, continued to make significant contributions, handling sensitive special victim’s cases.
Justice Miller’s unexpected passing in 2019, mere months after his retirement, left the legal community in mourning. Michael Farkas, a former prosecutor and past president of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association, eloquently summed up Miller’s impact, stating that he “excelled” in all his roles and provided “greatest service to the people of Brooklyn as a Supreme Court judge.”
“He loved his family, he loved his colleagues and he loved his job,” Justice Anne Swern told the Eagle at the time of Miller’s death. “He especially loved the people of Brooklyn.”
The upcoming memorial event, jointly hosted by the Kings County Criminal Court and the Kings County Criminal Court Bar Association, will serve as a tribute to Miller’s enduring legacy. It promises to be a solemn occasion, reflecting on the life and times of a true legal luminary who never forgot his Brooklyn roots.
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