The criminal case against former North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Connie Miller will now be heard by the Judge of the St. Joseph Superior Court, Jerome Frese.
This announcement comes after attorney Todd E. Wallsmith has taken the defendant’s case and will appear as her counsel, which presents a problem as he is within the third degree of relationship to Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall’s wife. According to Indiana law, a judge must disqualify himself in any proceeding in which a person within the third degree of relationship to the judge’s spouse is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding.
Consequently, Judge Hall disqualified himself from the proceedings and a special judge has been assigned to the case from a contiguous county. All further proceedings shall be at the discretion of Judge Frese.
Ten counts have been filed in the Starke Circuit Court against Miller. The charges, which were filed Aug. 22, allege that Miller took unauthorized control over cemetery lot sales, utility receipts, and other deposits and payments from the town during her time as clerk-treasurer.
The charges stem from a special report for the Town of North Judson filed by the State Board of Accounts earlier this year citing alleged financial discrepancies totaling $74,408.67 during the period of time between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011. Miller was asked to reimburse the town for the alleged discrepancies.
Special Deputy Prosecutor Michael P. Krebes filed the charges against Miller, which consist of nine counts of Theft and one count of Official Misconduct as Class D felonies. Krebes was appointed to the case after Starke County Prosecutor Nick Bourff requested a special prosecutor, because he was the acting legal counsel for the town of North Judson during the year 2010. He said that due to the attorney-client relationship that existed between him and Miller during that time, the decision on whether or not to prosecute based on the Indiana State Board of Accounts Special Report causes a conflict.