Judge bans disgraced councilor from his neighborhood meetings

Jeff Miller in Hendricks County Courthouse

DANVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — City-County Councilor Jeffrey Miller has been directed not to attend his home neighborhood association meetings, per a Hendricks County Superior Court judge order following Miller’s violation of a “no contact” order.

Jeff Miller appeared in court Friday alongside one of his attorneys, James Bell, after a petition from the state prosecution in his child molestation case. 

On Dec. 12, Miller attended a Fletcher Place Neighborhood Association meeting where at least one of his alleged 10-year-old female victims was present. Police were called and Miller left the meeting. 

“These kinds of cases are difficult, particularly for a public official,” said Jack Crawford, an Indianapolis attorney following the case. “Being an elected official, his job is to be out amidst the public all the time, and he’s likely to run into people.”

Judge Mark A. Smith did not add any new charges for Miller, instead reprimanding him for the decision to attend and stay at the Fletcher Place meeting. Judge Smith served Miller with a new “no contact order.”

The judge explained some specifics for the “no contact” order:

  • If Miller sees one of the people in a store, street or other space, he is expected to turn around and leave immediately.
  • If one attends a City-County Council meeting, Miller is not expected to leave.

The judge also banned Miller from attending future Fletcher Place neighborhood meetings until his case is closed.

That judgment will mean Miller must go back on a promise he made to constituents on Dec. 1: “I will always be at any meeting that impacts the quality of life of neighborhoods in our city.”

Crawford explained that “no contact” orders are meant to both protect children from someone they say has caused them harm and prevent a defendant from influencing a potential witness in the court proceedings. He said Miller’s violation of the “no contact” order this week will have a relatively small impact on the case’s final conclusion.

“Actually a jury could never hear about it,” said Crawford. “But this highlights the difficulty of a public official facing serious charges.” 

Councilor Scott Kreider, a Republican from district 23, responded to Friday’s hearing, continuing the call for Miller to resign:

My personal thoughts have remained the same, but this latest incident in my mind reinforces the reasons why I joined the call for Jeff Miller to resign. The seriousness of the allegations and the “no contact” orders make continued service a distraction and an impossibility in certain circumstances. He cannot be as effective a voice under these circumstances, and the latest incident demonstrates why. Moreover, we simply cannot afford to divert resources to address a disturbance that could be avoided, or to add security for future events if necessary. It would be best for him to step down so that a voice not laboring under a troubled cloud can speak for the people and be heard. That call to resign should not be read as an opinion on guilt or innocence or on his expressed dedication to and passion for serving his district. Instead it is a practical call to do what is best for the citizens.”

Miller has not stepped down, despite being removed from three committees within the City-County Council. Crawford believes Miller isn’t stepping down for one main reason.

“I believe he could use that in any time of the plea bargaining process,” said Crawford. “Whereby he could say to the prosecutor, ‘as a condition of a lesser charge, I will l resign my position.'”

Miller and his attorney did not respond to questions as they exited the courthouse, but the state prosecution representative, Courtney Curtis, did confirm there were seven people on Miller’s newly served “no contact” list. There were eight people on the list until Judge Smith ruled Miller was permitted contact with his young son. Curtis would not confirm if the individuals on the list had changed.

Miller’s next court date is scheduled for March 16, 2018.