PNJ Recommends: Bruce Miller for public defender
On his campaign website, Bruce Miller, the challenger for the position of Public Defender of the 1st Judicial Circuit, is quite clear why he is running and why he feels it is imperative that he be elected: “The current administration of James Owens has failed.’’
Miller, who has served 11 years in the Public Defender’s office, is our recommendation to replace James Owens for this vitally important position. They will meet in the Aug. 14 GOP primary election. The winner faces no opposition in the November general election.
Miller brings many qualifications to the position, yet one thing is clear: James Owens, elected four years ago, has indeed failed the public in his role and does not deserve another four years, regardless of qualified opponent. In truth, this race is more about Owens’ complete failure than anything else. And that failure has been stunning.
Instead of bringing a sense of fiscal responsibility and professional accountability to the office, as he promised, Owens’ tenure as public defender will be defined by an editorial cartoon penned by the News Journal’s Andy Marlette: the promotional poster for the 1970s movie “Animal House.’’ Only in this case, it’s not the drunken Bluto and his frat brothers from Delta House, it’s the 1st Circuit’s Public Defender’s office.
But there was, and remains, plenty of evidence to support that editorial cartoon.
During Owens’ tenure, we have seen the hiring of an 83-year-old political ally in a job that requires little of him but to show up and drink coffee, at a salary of more than $80,000. Yes, retired Col. Bud Day is a war hero. But this isn’t about Bud Day, it’s about Owens and favoritism and a misuse of taxpayer money.
We have seen his right-hand man and high school football buddy, Tony Henderson, resign amid charges that he sought sexual favors from an ex-client. The FDLE is investigating.
It’s not exactly a good thing when the FDLE starts investigating the lawyers.
And this list goes on: An assistant who suggested a client leave the country if the trial started to go south. Another who modified the photo of a female prosecutor and passed it around a bar. And yet another assistant who cursed law enforcement who dared to ask him to lower the volume of music at a gathering.
This isn’t a law office. It’s a middle school cafeteria.
This was all done under James Owens’ watch.
Miller is up to the challenge to bring professionalism back to this office. He understands the important role the office plays.
We believe a solid, no-nonsense professional like Miller is needed to fix the Public Defenders office and we wholeheartedly recommend him.
Otherwise, we’ll be treated to a sequel no one really wants: Animal House II.