Miller marks his appointment to court with pizza celebration

Anthony Miller (center) and his friend Stephen Bowen (left) talk with another guest at Miller’s recent pizza celebration of his appointment as a county judge.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine


By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

    A few minutes before Anthony Miller’s interview with governor Ron DeSantis and his staff was over, the signs were pointing favorably to the young attorney.

When it was over, Miller could hardly believe that DeSantis had chosen him to fill a vacancy in Leon County Court. 

“It was just unreal,” Miller said. “It felt like a dream. You just go through shock.”

The governor officially announced his appointment last week.  Miller, 48, replaces Judge Stephen Everett, who DeSantis promoted last month to the Second Circuit Court.

A few days after his appointment, Miller invited his friends and supporters to join him and his wife, Diana, for a celebration at Momo’s Pizza.

More than 50 people showed up.

“I just want to express gratitude to people who have been friends and supporters of me and my career,” Miller said. “You can’t get to a point like this without a lot of help and a lot of support.”

A FSU law school graduate, Miller cut his teeth as an attorney for the last 19 years. Since 2017, he has been with the General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer for Florida’s Agency for State Technology.

All the time, he built a reputation as a family man. It’s all he’s known since growing up in Georgia, he said.

“We grew up with strong values. Family was important and they instilled that in me; that you treat people with respect,” Miller said. “Throughout my career, I’ve always treated everybody with respect; whether it’s the janitor, the CEO or the person next to me.

“You look people in the eye and you treat them with respect. You treat them the same way you want to be treated. Now as a judge I get that opportunity to treat people who come into the courtroom with respect.”

Miller and his wife are parents to three children — Talia, 17; Seanna, 15; and Jaylen, 13. Both girls play flag football and Jaylen plays tackle football for his middle school.

Miller seldom misses a game.

“I’m a big believer in being involved,” he said, “not only physically but emotionally with my kids.”

They seemingly are walking in their father’s footstep. Miller was a high school tennis player and later he played at Albany State where he started college.

He transferred to FAMU then attended law school at FSU, graduating in 2000.

Some of the people he interacted with over the years have influenced him as mentors, Miller said.

“Throughout my career I’ve always benefitted from mentors; even now as I move to a next phase to be a judge,” Miller said. “I’m going to continue to rely on people like Judge (Lane) Smith, Judge Everett; people who have been mentors to me.”

Smith, a Leon County judge and former co-worker of Miller’s at the Florida Lottery, said there is plenty for Miller to learn about being a judge. However, he said Miller’s reputation of being one who is prepared for his cases should carry over on the bench.

“He is a smart man and he is a hard worker,” Smith said. “I don’t doubt one minute that he won’t work his tail off.”

Some of Miller’s responsibilities as a county judge will include handling Baker Act cases and others involving substance abuse. He’ll also be signing off on warrants.

Both Smith and Everett said Miller has the temperament necessary to be effective as a judge. 

“He has a wide array of legal experience and also he is capable of dealing with people in a way that is very patient,” Everett said. “He will be able to meet what the job demands. I think he is very prepared in that way.”

A few of those who celebrated Miller at Momo’s, including Stephen Bowen, have a more personal relationship with Miller. Both are board members at the 1200 Tharpe Street Church.

For years, Bowen said, he’d jokingly told Miller that being a judge was in his future. He praised DeSantis for making it come true for his friend of 20 years.

“I was super excited when governor DeSantis appointed him,” Bowen said. “It is something we all had been praying for; something I believed should happen. 

“He is a man of character and a man of ethics. His greatest ability is his ability to connect and listen to people and then process that to figure out what’s the right response if there is a question.”

Former FAMU basketball coach Mickey Clayton, who Miller said made an impression was among the people in the room. They met while Miller was working his way through law school. Miller worked at a restaurant where Clayton and his wife were guests.

 That Miller was working his way through college made an impression on Clayton.

“That shows you what type of person he is,” Clayton said. “He is not a person that feels entitled. He is not used to people giving him things. He is used to working for the things he wants to achieve in life.”