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A Friend Of Robert Miller Writes
Long Time Friend & Sailor Tells Bob's Story
September 22, 2015

arly Saturday morning Sept 19 someone came aboard Robert Allen Miller’s 26 foot sailboat in Oriental and shot him multiple times.
Robert Miller’s 26’ sailboat
He is in critical condition at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Multiple suspects are being investigated by the SBI and Pamlico County Sheriff’s Dept. Sheriff Chris Davis states he believes Miller was targeted – this was not a random act of violence.

Miller had been an attorney. According to records from the The North Carolina Bar, Miller was disbarred in 2006.

TownDock.net received the following email Monday, from a long time friend of Robert Miller in Raleigh. The writer has sailed with Robert Miller. He has asked his name be withheld. Due to the unusual & violent aspects of this story, we agreed.

My name is hidden and I live in Raleigh. For safety reasons, I would ask you DO NOT print my name. Someone tried to settle a score with Robert Miller. They unloaded a semi-automatic weapon into him execution style and left him for dead. I don’t want to be on their list.

Bob tried very hard to keep his felony conviction a secret. Hey got a very raw deal and that side of the story now needs to be told. He is your neighbor who has been brutally maimed and disfigured and now, his reputation has been destroyed in the process in your paper. Your reporting was reasonably accurate but you owe it to him to print this. This is the other side of that story.

I read your article about the shooting at Clancy Marina and must say that you seem to have the best coverage of the story I have seen. I am one of several of Robert Miller’s long time friends and while he is lying in the hospital with tubes everywhere and unable to speak, write or move, I thought I should step up and take his defense.

Thank you for the way you addressed his “embezzlement” conviction. I have a reasonable amount of knowledge about how that all went down and you are right-the amount was modest and the word “accused” is appropriate. People closely familiar with that situation feel very strongly that he was the victim, in fact, the only victim of that “crime”.

Most attorneys will tell you that the legal system is far from perfect. Indeed, sometimes it can be grossly unfair. Prosecutors and defense attorneys fiercely compete and the unpublished scoreboard of wins and losses can mean everything to their career status, no matter which side of the law they represent. Mr. Miller was an excellent attorney and frankly, talented at everything he did-defending his clients, sailing, fixing sailboats, cars, houses, canoeing. He just was (I say “was” because several bullets entered deep into his brain) one smart dude.

For attorneys on both sides, winning sometimes creates enemies . Bob is no angel but when it comes to the law, he was always totally and strictly “by the book”. He was far too smart to do anything shady and his advice to clients was always conservative. He didn’t actually care about money. He drove used cars, lived in a two bedroom rustic house, built everything himself and would often “forget” to bill his clients. He constantly took pro bono cases to defend people who were wrongly accused. If he really wanted to embezzle, he was smart enough to get away with millions and skip the country. He wouldn’t and didn’t need to blow a good career for $9,000.

Bob loved his work. He craved the fight. Maybe he loved it too much, he made a lot of enemies. He often said that “jury trials are a crapshoot, your odds are better in Vegas”. He won the majority of his cases and often absolutely destroyed his opponents in the process.

People who knew their way around the Wake County court system would sometimes advise Mr. Miller to “be careful…people are out to get you”. He brushed it off. He really was a fearless person, maybe sailing through storms in the open ocean in a 26 foot sailboat makes you that way.

One day, the N.C. Bar attempted to disbar him. The charges were ridiculous but as he learned more about the nature of this, it became clear that it didn’t matter if he was innocent. He would have to spend a small fortune to defend himself (even if you act as your own attorney, lawsuits are very expensive) and given the spurious nature of the charge, Bob concluded that no matter what he did, someone wanted to take him down. He was in a position that he could retire gracefully, or so he thought. So he turned in his license. He WAS NOT disbarred and in fact, the charges were dismissed.

There was another, unrelated incident that occurred previously that the Bar did not seem to quibble with. Bob’s long term paralegal had cancer and could no longer work. (Bob continued to pay her medical insurance and gave her a paid leave of absence). This happened during a particularly heavy caseload and in desperation, he hired the first qualified paralegal he could find. He should have checked he background and also should have audited his trust account every 2-3 weeks but he let it go for a few months. When he did audit the account he discovered that his new prized paralegal had forged his name on several checks. How she was able to get them cashed is a mystery, or maybe a scandal, nobody knows. Bob knew the rules. He immediately paid back the trust account with his own money and self reported to the Bar.

After he turned in his law license, some things happened that he should have thought about. First, no other lawyer wanted to buy his practice. Second, all the clients who owed him money took his resignation as a reason to not pay what they owed. Third, he had debts to pay and employees to take care of. He sold his house, his stereo, his table saw, band saw and shop and paid his debts and employees. Then he moved onto his boat and lived off his remaining savings, simply, like he always did. He had a plan to build a new kind of dinghy but unfortunately, had no venture capital.

One day one of his clients sent him a check in an envelope. There was no explanation but since she owed him a lot of money for past work, he thought that she had made a partial payment. I think it was for about $3,000. Bob was thrilled. A few months later, he was served arrest warrants for more crazy charges that would then be dropped when contested. It seems like he was just being harassed for no reason. One charge landed him in criminal court. It was related to taking the money this former client sent him. The charge: “Impersonating an attorney”.

The trial was a circus. The prosecuting attorney was non other than the head District Attorney of Wake County. It’s unheard of for someone of that stature to try such a small case but that DA was someone who Bob often beat and likely embarrassed in court, in all fairness, mercilessly. (Interestingly, a few years later, that DA abruptly resigned to pursue what sounded like a dubious new career). The Prosecution’s “star witness” was Bob’s former paralegal who was now in cancer remission. That witness backfired for the Prosecution. All she could do was gush about what a great attorney, employer and honest, unselfish man Bob Miller was. The other Prosecution witness, the woman who sent the $3,000 check was incoherent. She didn’t have much to say.

The situation with the checks drawn on the trust account was dragged out as well. Bob’s attorney easily showed the signatures on the checks were not Bob’s, that they were indeed forged and showed how quickly Bob remedied the account when he discovered the anomaly. No money flowed from the trust account to Bob’s personal account. The Prosecution kept referring to Bob not as “Mr. Miller” but as “the disbarred attorney”. The Defense objected but for some reason the judge overruled. Bob had not been disbarred at that time, he had turned in his license. The Defense decided to not fight that “disbarred attorney” misnomer. One learns in Law 101 to never try a “case inside a case” in a jury trial because it just confuses the jury.

The night before the final arguments, Bob was calmer than I had seen him for months. The Prosecution was clearly going to lose this one. However, Bob once again reminded me that “jury trials are a crap shoot”. Still, he felt good about this one.

The next day, the two sides made their closing arguments and the jury was sent out to decide. They came back with a verdict very quickly. Too quickly. “Guilty”.

Bob was sentenced to 60 days in a minimum security prison. He was mortified. An “administrative error” occurred when he reported to prison and they sent him to Central Prison where all the hard core murderers and rapists go – a dangerous place for an older man. Bob’s attorney was able to get him transferred to the right place but it took several days and how this “mistake” occurred is still a mystery. Also mysteriously, the paralegal who forged the checks cannot be found and has not been pursued.

All Bob’s friends told him to appeal but us non-legal types didn’t realize how expensive and time consuming appeals are. As a convicted felon, Bob could not find a job and eventually was penniless except for his boat and his beat up old car. A small business owner eventually discovered his abilities and gave him a chance and Bob successfully turned around that business, then rebuilt his boat, sailed to the Bahamas and retired to the coast.

Now Bob lies in a hospital in critical condition. This was clearly was not a robbery. Bob was quiet about his affairs so we have no idea who did it and we don’t know the extent of the brain damage or if he will succumb to an infection. We very well never will know who did this or why. We always felt someone was out to get Bob and apparently they did. He can’t defend himself so forgive me for the long treatise. Bob deserves it.

Added September 24: From Bob’s friend Buddy Kelly:
I want to add my voice in support of Bob Miller. I’ve been privileged to know Bob since the early 90’s.

We both shared the passion of whitewater paddling. There is a small tight knit community of us in the RDU triangle. We would run the local rivers after big rains, and venture to points west to try our hand on the bigger stuff. Bob and his friends would regale us “newbies” with stories of the old days when whitewater paddling was considered insane or even suicidal. Bob was a padddler that you wanted to run a big river with. He’s a big strong guy who paddled a big boat with an even bigger personality. He would give up his safety gear, helmet, PFD, whatever if someone in the group lost theirs. He was all about the group effort without ever thinking of himself.

Most of the time on the river, your dealing with whats right there, at that moment, it kinda cuts thru the clutter, giving you a real insight into a person, and Bob is a person that I trusted my life to on several occasions.

Bob has a bunch of old friends who are heartbroken over what happened to him. It breaks my heart that it happened in Oriental, a village that I love and, where I let my kids free range and don’t even lock my door at night.

So here’s to Big Bob, sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Buddy Kelly
Orange County

Posted Tuesday September 22, 2015 by Keith N. Smith

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