MAHOPAC, N.Y. - There’s a new judge in town.
The Town Board has appointed Daniel Miller as the new town justice. Miller will serve out the remaining term of Judge Joseph Spofford, who was elected county judge in November.
Born in Kansas, Miller moved to Mahopac with his family when he was 7 years old and graduated from Mahopac High School in 1985 as the class valedictorian.
“My dad was in the FBI, and we moved around a lot,” he said. “We came [to Mahopac] in 1973.”
Miller obtained his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1988, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He later attended law school at the University of North Carolina and earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1993.
In May 1994, Miller joined O’Connor, McGuinness, Conte, Doyle, Oleson, & Collins in White Plains as an associate attorney where he was involved in all aspects of civil litigation. The firm specialized in insurance defense, malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, and general liability matters.
Before opening his own law practice in Mahopac in 2009, Miller was the owner and co-founder of a supply chain software company. He managed all aspects of the operation, including establishing business and technology structure for operating and holding company, obtaining two United States patents, leading and executing the company’s intellectual property strategy, and drafting and negotiating contracts and strategic agreements. After 10 years, he decided to return to his original profession.
Miller said that going back into law, after a decade with the software company, was somewhat of “a shock to the system.”
“The question for me was, do I go back to a firm, or start up my own practice here in Mahopac,” he said. “It was scary at first, but it quickly picked up steam and I credit my dad’s legacy for that. He had a good reputation.”
Miller said his background in insurance defense was helpful in starting his own practice.
“I wanted to that (insurance law), but I had to branch out and got some real estate work, estate planning, mixed in some trial work. It was a learning curve, but not too bad,” he said.
Miller said he had entertained thoughts about becoming a judge for some time. His father influenced his decision to throw his hat into the ring when the opportunity presented itself.
“My father had encouraged it for a while,” Miller said. “He had been a Carmel justice for about 15 years and then a county court judge for around 10 years. He said I would be a great judge. I was deflecting it at first, but Joe Spofford was a big influence as well and said I would be great for the job. It started to make sense at that point.”
He was sworn in by Supervisor Ken Schmitt at the Town Board’s Dec. 12 meeting as his family looked on.
“I’ve known Dan for many years,” Schmitt said. “It is an honor and a privilege to swear him in.”
Later, Miller donned the judge’s robe to pose for photos with town officials.
“That was a cool moment—to put on that robe,” he said.
Miller said that while becoming a town justice wasn’t initially part of his big picture, he believes his experiences have left him well-prepared.
“Over the course of 10 years, I’ve had a lot of exposure to different justice courts and handled a lot of criminal matters and civil disputes. I became conversant with the justice system here and appeared many times in Carmel, Kent and Patterson courts. That will help me hit the ground running.”
He said he will rely on Carmel’s other justice, Thomas Jacobellis, and the court staff, to help him out in the early stages.
“I have gotten to know them over the years,” he said. “They are very knowledgeable and will be a huge asset.”
Miller is married to his wife, Lani, and has two daughters—Jaiden, who is a senior at Mahopac High School, and Kaleigh, a junior in college.