SAN DIEGO – As San Diegans gear up for the upcoming primary election on June 5, all eyes seem to be on the mayoral race, city council races, and hot button propositions.
There are, however, a number of other important races that will appear on the ballot, including three Superior Court Judge seats.
One such candidate is Jim Miller, who is vying for San Diego Superior Court Seat 25.
Miller, who is currently appointed as a Judge Pro Tem, is also a County Hearing Officer, and has trial experience as an attorney in criminal, civil, family, federal and state law.
He calls himself "the complete choice for judge" because of his wide range of experience in the courtroom, as well as in business.
Miller has not only run his own law firm and business, he is also an NFL agent, having represented over 200 professional athletes.
Why does Miller think he’s more qualified than his opponent to take this seat? "Unequivocally, it is my practical and hands-on experience," he said.
"As a private practicing attorney running my own office for going on 16 years, I have handled cases in all five primary areas of the law,” Miller said. “I have both State and Federal trial experience, as well as Criminal and Civil trial experience and substantial Family law experience.
"It is critical for voters to understand, judge assignments rotate to different areas of the law and over 90 per cent of all judges coming from government, with the vast majority from the D.A.’s office, only have criminal law experience,” added Miller.
"Additionally I have special training as a judge pro tem. Since 2008, I have heard cases and made the decisions as a judge pro tem in small claims court and to a lesser extent, in traffic court. In 2001 I became an arbitrator with the BBB, a state authorized program. I did the same with the State Bar Arbitration program in 2006.
"In 2011 I was appointed to the County Hearing Board to hear appeals from County departments. These years of experience as a ‘neutral’ have helped to train me to be a judge. There is a huge difference between representing a client or prosecuting cases, compared to stepping back and listening fairly to both sides of an issue. As Judges, we must understand we do not have a ‘dog in the fight’ and need to take all sides under full consideration and render a completely fair and well thought out decision."
When asked why voters should be concerned with the judicial races that will appear on the ballot, Miller said, “the courts are the primary place the public truly interacts with their state government.”
“How many people go to see the legislature in action (or inaction)?” asked Miller. “Who gets to sit in on a cabinet meeting with the Governor? Almost no one outside of lobbyists, lawyers and people taking a tour.
“In contrast, everyone goes to court at one time or another. Be it for a speeding ticket, divorce/custody, or probate, resulting when a family member has passed away. Even jury duty brings in the general public to interact with the Judicial Branch of their state government.”
Miller said that with this in mind, the selection of judges is very important.
“People want to see and feel that their elected officers are involved in their communities and working on their problems,” Miller said. “When you have a judge that seems overly stern or demonstrative from the bench, impressions are being made on the public, often times far greater than their interpretation of the law or decisions they render.
"Impressions of a judge should evoke dignity and fairness, while at the same time, always representing the high profile position they are elected to in a court of law.
"Additionally, voters should be concerned with this election since California is the most litigious state in the country,” Miller said.
“A proposition, a bill, even a dog walking ordinance, can't be passed without someone somewhere filing a lawsuit over it,” Miller said. “Many people forget that a jury is only constitutionally mandated in criminal law proceedings. Because of this, judges in the other areas of law -- Family, Civil, Juvenile and Probate -- make the decisions. Yes, you can have a jury in civil case; however, the pre trial law and motion practice that shapes those cases are all decided by the judge.
“If you don’t pay attention to the judges at the trial court level, where you can actually vote for them, then you might as well forget your high school civics class instruction on checks and balances of government. The court is the check and the balance to what the legislative branch passes as law and the executive branch authorizes as law.”
Born and raised in San Diego, Miller knows the community very well.
A graduate of Valhalla High School in El Cajon, Miller next graduated with a degree in business from San Diego State University, and received his Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
The married father of four maintains strong ties to the community he serves, participating as a board member for Sharp Grossmont Hospital Foundation and The Marshall Faulk Foundation, among many other involvements.
As for what Miller considers to be his great accomplishment in his legal career, the candidate says it is personal in nature and shares this story:
"On September 11, 2009 my father passed away unexpectedly. Upon passing the Bar, I joined a small downtown law firm for a short time. Later I joined my father’s firm, practicing law together for 13 years. My father’s practice was primarily family in nature and he was regularly named in the Daily Transcript as one of the top family law litigators. When my father passed away two years ago, I had a difficult choice to make. I could close down our office and join one of a few firms that knew of my situation or I could down size which would require laying off our legal secretary of 11 years. I could also learn the area of family law as quickly as possible and so I did. I kept my secretary employed and met with approximately 80 of my father’s clients with active cases and all but one, stayed with me.
To the credit of my father’s highly valued clients, 79 of the 80 hired me on understanding that my family law experience was not near my father’s yet and I was primarily a civil litigator. Well, the office remains open and busy and my highly devoted secretary still has her job. I missed my family for several months as I put in 16+ hour days to get up to speed on cases and fully believe my father would be proud of me today for the decision I made.
Miller hopes that when voters head to the ballot box next month, they will him see as the candidate with the experience, ethics, and a passion for community service.
He pledges to not legislate from the bench. He further pledges to punish violent criminals when they are found guilty, is dedicated to hearing both sides fairly in civil and family court and has the experience to dismiss frivolous lawsuits that may come before him.
Miller wants to serve the people of San Diego and hopes to be able to do so while making the best decisions that impact peoples real lives.
For more information about Jim Miller’s campaign click HERE.
Election Day is June 5. To find your polling place or get more information, visit the San Diego County Registrar of Voters website HERE.
Left photo: Jim Miller with his family. Credit: Stephani Dennis Photography.