On Thursday, March 7, 2024, the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York issued a ruling on multiple motions for summary judgment in the employment discrimination case brought by Rachelle Gallagher and Mark Kachadourian against the Unified Court System of New York and former Broome County Family Court Judge Richard Miller II.

Gallagher and Kachadourian both had worked as personal staff appointees of Judge Miller when he began his term in 2015, with Gallagher as his Judicial Secretary and Kachadourian as his Court Attorney. However, they claimed that from 2015 to 2017 Miller subjected them to ongoing sexual harassment and threats of physical violence. Examples given included Miller threatening that if they betrayed him they would be found at the bottom of the river in cement boots, complaining about his lack of sexual activity with his wife and demanding his needs be satisfied, showing plaintiffs pornographic images, and making graphic comments about women’s anatomies.

In May 2017, an incident occurred where Miller became angry a state senator refused to give him his cell phone number, and allegedly told Kachadourian that Gallagher needed to go to Albany to “satisfy the state senator’s sexual needs.” Both plaintiffs said they were frightened and refused. They stated they made numerous oral complaints about Miller’s behavior to the Broome Family Court Chief Clerk Debbi Singer between 2015-2017, which they believed constituted formal complaints under the Unified Court System’s sexual harassment policy at the time.

In 2017, plaintiffs filed a complaint against Miller with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. As a result, in July 2017 both plaintiffs and Miller were temporarily reassigned – plaintiffs to work in the Sixth Judicial District office and Miller to handle foreclosure matters out of the State Office Building. Plaintiffs claimed after their reassignments, their work duties and responsibilities were diminished in retaliation for complaining about Miller.

The Commission filed formal charges against Miller in 2018 which were partially sustained in a June 2019 referee’s report. However, the referee did not sustain all allegations, finding the plaintiffs lacked credibility as witnesses. In February 2020 the Commission unanimously found Miller violated judicial conduct rules, and he should be removed from office. Miller appealed his removal, but the New York Court of Appeals upheld the findings of misconduct in 2020.

The Court’s ruling on March 7 granted partial summary judgment. It dismissed all claims against Miller in his individual capacity, but allowed claims against him in his official capacity and against the Unified Court System to proceed. The case will now move forward to the trial phase.

Miller presided as a judge at the Broome County Family Court in New York, holding the position from 2014 until 2020. Prior to this, he held judicial roles at the Union Town Court from 1996 to 2014 and the Johnson City Village Court from 2002 to 2014.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.