BARNEGAT, NJ – Twenty-one years ago, Philip M. Miller moved from Lakewood to Barnegat. It was the same year Barnegat Township authorities voted to appoint him as the local judge. Earlier this month, the committee gave Miller another nod of confidence. They almost unanimously agreed to reappoint Miller to another three-year term as judge.
Mayor John Novak was the sole member of the governing body who did not vote on the reappointment. Novak, an attorney, explained the reason for his abstention.
“I don’t want to think by my abstaining that I feel differently than I do,” Novak explained. “All municipal court judges in Ocean County are cross-appointed as conflict judges for all other towns.”
According to Novak, the scenario could create a situation if he needed to make an appearance on a client’s behalf in another Ocean County community. Although Novak doesn’t represent defendants in Barnegat Municipal Court, he could find himself before Judge Miller if another judge was on vacation or had a conflict.
“As liaison to the municipal court and as a former court public defender in this court, and as someone who makes his livelihood in municipal court, “the Barnegat mayor continued, “I can say that our court is excellent.”
Novak suggested that no one likes to be in court but credited everyone from the administrative team up on making the experience as professional and palpable as could be expected. He wasn’t alone in expressing his accolades.
“Last week, I happened to be in municipal court with a family member who was involved in an automobile accident,” shared Barnegat resident John Murrin. “Judge Miller did an excellent job and explained everything thoroughly to everyone who was in the courtroom."
“Whether people needed to meet with the prosecutor or something else,” Murrin continued. “Judge Miller was just fantastic, and his reappointment is a great one.”
In addition to presiding as the judge in Barnegat, Miller is also in his second term as the judge in neighboring Ocean Township. Additionally, Miller is one of the judges who oversee arraignments and first appearances in the Central Judicial Processing Court (“CJP.”) After bail reform began in New Jersey, the CJP became the first court assigned for those charged with indictable offenses.
Miller maintains a private law practice in Barnegat that primarily focuses on transactional work. This includes estate planning and administration and workers' compensation matters. He no longer handles civil or criminal litigation cases. Upon request, Miller shared the reasons he enjoys working as a judge.
“Even though I’m a lawyer, I really don’t like arguing with people, “admitted Miller. “As a judge, I rule on the facts and the evidence as it’s presented to me.”