A key Senate panel voted Monday evening to approve the appointment of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's son as an Anne Arundel County District Court judge, a nomination that was first put forward two years ago and prompted three members of the county's judicial nominating commission to resign in protest.
The panel's decision means a vote on Thomas V. Miller III's nomination to the bench will likely go to the Senate floor later this week. Miller said he did not seek to use his father's influence in gaining the appointment.
"I tried to lobby for myself," he said Monday evening. "I told him, 'Let me do this on my own.'" He was accompanied by his mother and his wife to the Senate hearing.
Senate President Miller is a prolific fundraiser and is considered the state's most powerful Democrat. He has bristled in the past at any questions raised about his son's nomination.
"He was a better scholar than myself in college, a better athlete. He's much more compassionate than myself, and he'll be a better judge than I would be," Miller told The Baltimore Sun in a 2008 interview.
Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman endorsed the nomination, praising the younger Miller's temperament after holding an unusual 25-minute meeting with the nominee. "I understood that this might be a contentious issue," he said.
Kittleman would not predict if any of his caucus members will object when the nomination comes to the Senate floor. "Certain members can do what they want to do," he said.
In May 2008, when Miller's name was initially floated for the position, members of the county's nominating committee objected, saying the appointment would not be "taken seriously" except for the fact that he is a son of the Senate president.
Thomas V. Miller III graduated from the University of Maryland and has a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. He has worked for a year in the Prince George's County public defender's office and also worked for two years in private practice. For the past 14 years, he has been a state parole commissioner.
Miller tried cases as a public defender and in private practice during the late 1990s, but he has not tried a case in the past five years, according to his application for the position. Members of the state's parole commission are prohibited from having their own legal practice.