For the first time in decades, voters in Pinellas and Pasco will be casting a ballot for State Attorney. Citizens will have the choice between a prosecutor with four-plus decades of experience as a leader in the State Attorney’s Office or a candidate who has never previously served as a prosecutor on any case.
Ms. Allison Ferber Miller and I began our legal careers together on opposite sides of the aisle. She began as an Assistant Public Defender in Pinellas County and I as an Assistant State Attorney. She was an impressive defense attorney, unafraid of taking a case to trial. She moved through the ranks at the Public Defender’s Office and is widely regarded as one of the top death penalty defense attorneys in our area.
When she announced her candidacy for State Attorney, it came as a shock to many. She had just been promoted to a supervisory role at the Pasco Office of the Public Defender and had no prior experience prosecuting cases. Her platform suggested that she was the one who could modernize the State Attorney’s Office and expand diversion programs.
At the time of her announcement, Bruce Bartlett had been our circuit’s top prosecutor for less than six months.
Since his appointment, Bartlett has added two new diversion programs and has expanded the use of technology in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. He has promoted women and minorities alike to top leadership positions in his office. The progress has been real and substantial.
With these changes, much of the wind has been taken out of Miller’s sails and she has resorted to dirty politics and referring to Bartlett and his team of more than 400 prosecutors and staff members as racists. During my three years as an employee in the office and twelve years as a defense attorney, I have never once felt that a decision was race related.
In a recent social media post, Miller posted an arrest affidavit relating to an incident where she was the victim of an armed robbery. She went on to say that her “journey to State Attorney began when [she] was held at gunpoint when [she] was 14.”
If Miller was the victim of an armed robbery, I sincerely hope that the case was prosecuted with the same level of racially blind tenacity that Bartlett and his staff prosecute cases with every day.
However, her statement that this life event served as her motivation to run for State Attorney seems far-fetched.
In February 2016, she applied for a judicial vacancy in the 6th Judicial Circuit. During that time, she is quoted as commenting, “I really love being a public defender … but I would love to be a judge ultimately in my career and this is a great opportunity.”
Leading up to the 2020 election, Miller contemplated and sought out support for a bid to run for the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender vacancy caused by Bob Dillinger’s retirement.
Ultimately, she chose not to pursue that position, presumably because she did not receive Dillinger’s support.
Given these historical facts, I think that an informed voter might doubt the sincerity of her statement that the robbery incident motivated her to run for State Attorney. Between then and now, she has spent the majority of her career defending persons accused of violent crimes, many of which were charged with firearms offenses.
With all of this in mind, one must reasonably question whether Miller has a bona fide desire to be our circuit’s top prosecutor, or if she merely yearns for a position of power in the criminal justice system.
This November, I’d encourage citizens to vote like the safety of our community depended on it — because it does. Although she was and is a talented defense attorney, there is nothing in Miller’s experience that qualifies her to manage an office of 400+ employees and a budget that exceeds $40 million.
Bartlett has a proven track record of efficiently running the State Attorney’s Office and has made positive changes during his short time as State Attorney that benefit our community.
He deserves to be elected to continue this progress.
Timothy F. Sullivan is a managing partner of the law firm Russo Pelletier & Sullivan, based in St. Petersburg.
September 19, 2022 at 10:01 pm
“If Miller was the victim of an armed robbery, I sincerely hope that the case was prosecuted with the same level of racially blind tenacity that Bartlett and his staff prosecute cases with every day.” The suggestion inherent in this sentence is thoroughly disgusting — that Ms. Miller may not have actually been the victim of a violent crime but is risking making it up for political points. Not to mention the fact that she has made the police report public, proving the traumatic event was very much real. I wonder if Tim was ever held at gunpoint as a young teenager? Perhaps if he had he’d understand that’s not something a sane person would invent. Anyone else think its hilariously tone deaf for a white man to comment with assuredness that based on his experience, prosecutions were never racially motivated? There are things called statistics. Maybe someone needs to explain systemic racism to him for the 5 thousandth time in his life, maybe it’ll sink in. I also think it’s really rich that someone who was a public defender for all but three years of his life and then crossed over fancies himself in a position to accuse someone of not having the proper loyalties or intentions behind running for this position. Sit down, Tim.
September 19, 2022 at 10:15 pm
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“If Miller was the victim of an armed robbery, I sincerely hope that the case was prosecuted with the same level of racially blind tenacity that Bartlett and his staff prosecute cases with every day.” The suggestion inherent in this sentence is thoroughly disgusting — that Ms. Miller may not have actually been the victim of a violent crime but is risking making it up for political points. Not to mention the fact that she has made the police report public, proving the traumatic event was very much real. I wonder if Tim was ever held at gunpoint as a young teenager? Perhaps if he had been, he’d understand that’s not something a sane person would invent. Anyone else think its hilariously tone deaf for a white man to comment with assuredness that based on his experience, prosecutions were never racially motivated? There are things called statistics. Maybe someone needs to explain systemic racism to him for the 5 thousandth time in his life, maybe it’ll sink in. I wonder if this public exclamation of adoration for Bruce and his work has anything to do with the fact that his wife still works at the SAs office and got a huge raise when Bruce got appointed? If what we’re doing here is throwing around accusations of hidden agendas…Sit down, Tim.
September 20, 2022 at 9:07 am
I agree with your comments wholeheartedly. What kind of sociopath would intimate that Ms. Miller was being untruthful when the police report validates Ms. Miller’s account of the crime? Certainly a cursory review of publicly available court records would have dispelled Tim’s (bad faith) concerns. Nonetheless, politicizing her victimization is beyond the pale. I wonder if bruce Bartlet supports this shameless attack? If this is the way tim conducts himself know I will never use russo, pelletier, and sullivan for any of my legal needs and I will certainly tell others to go elsewhere. For that matter, bruce bartlet has lost my vote.
September 20, 2022 at 10:12 am
I sincerely hope that Mr. Sullivan does better opposition research for his clients than he did for this article. So just to summarize, a white man that has personally benefited from Bartlett’s appointment thinks that Bartlett is great? And there are no racial biases in the 6th circuit court? Just want to make sure I have the full picture. It’s interesting how Mr. Sullivan left out his wife’s salary increase that she received when Bartlett took office or that Mr. Sullivan is white and seems to have a strong opinion on racial inequities. He states he has never noticed a racial issue! As a lawyer, he should be able to research and understand statistics. As someone with an M.Ed and thesis on equity and access in West Pasco, I would beg to differ. He also failed to mention the pending lawsuits that Bartlett is also responsible for as he continues to prosecute and use evidence obtained via predictive policing. Bartlett’s office and the current AG also like to ignore the pleas from citizens that cannot readily obtain FOIA requests from municipalities. Nor does Bartlett support expanding an internal affairs division despite all of the evidence to show we desperately need accountability. So, Mr. Sullivan, considering that almost nothing you wrote is based on factual information, just exactly how do you win cases in court? Are you always this manipulative or just when it personally benefits you?
September 20, 2022 at 10:36 am
It is not “politicizing her victimization.” Ms Miller has spent her entire career working in the criminal justice system and is now running for an office that will put her in a position to prosecute people who commit violent crimes. Context is important. This experience would certainly inform one’s perspectives on crime and prosecution and what victims go through. This would color how one sees the world and the system and how one might approach this very specific, often victim-focused position. I have no doubt it also informed the way she operated as a public defender. Sharing a life experience that has increased your empathy and deepened your understanding of a societal issue over which you may exert great power is not even remotely manipulative.
September 20, 2022 at 4:24 pm
Right on, Tim! Let’s break out the FULL police report (not just 2 pages) which is readily available to the public (also of which includes a witness list; minors included), and let’s expose the true Ms. Allison Ferber Miller! Wonder if there is video, too? No one should vote for a liar. Especially one that uses lies as a sympathy tactic to gain votes. Terrible. Can’t wait for it all to come out. Don’t be gullible people.
September 20, 2022 at 5:51 pm
Tina-you must be joking, right? Otherwise why would you deny objective reality? All of this is publicly available information, including Department of Corrections records demonstrating that Ms. Miller was, in fact, the victim of an armed robbery. The offender was convicted and went to prison for the offense. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.
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