After 28 years on the bench at the 16th Judicial Circuit in Monroe County, Judge Wayne Miller will retire in August, the month in which he turns 65.
Miller, whose last day in court is Aug. 31, will leave his final elected term a year and four months early, forcing the governor to appoint an interim judge this summer.
Miller worked as a prosecutor in Chicago and Monroe County before launching a judicial career in 1988, said he will divide his time between the Florida Keys and Orlando, where he has a home and two grandchildren, ages 3 and six months.
“This is a choice,” said Miller, who sent a letter announcing his retirement to Gov. Rick Scott on May 8. “I know some people are a little disappointed. I’ve had a lot of phone calls from people who don’t want me to go. I want them to know I’m proud to have served them.”
Miller said he wants to spend time with his grandchildren while they are still so young. He will remain in the Keys to do mediation work.
“I’ve always tried to be tough but fair,” Miller said Thursday of a judgeship that spans three decades. “I try and give people that deserve a chance a chance.”
The process begins with an invitation to lawyers to apply for the interim term by the Judicial Nomination Commission, chaired by County Attorney Bob Shillinger.
The commission will whittle the applicants’ list down to three to six names for the governor to choose, Shillinger said. The position will be announced in various media outlets after the governor convenes the commission.
If all goes as planned, an interim successor to Miller could be chosen by the end of July.
Miller said he will miss most the people he works with in the justice system, who he says aren’t paid enough for their dedication.
“The county court is the window to the justice system,” he said. “That’s where most people have their contact with the justice system. The state should be more attuned to making that a positive experience. The people I work with try so hard to do that. We work for the people who come here. They’re our bosses and we try to treat them with respect.”
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen