NEW PORT RICHEY — Disbarred attorney Jessica Miller has pleaded ignorance and blamed others for her legal woes.
But Tuesday in court, dressed in an orange and white jail suit and wearing handcuffs, she tried a new tactic:
"I've never been in this position before," Miller said. "I'm not real sure what to say other than I didn't wish this court any disrespect.
"I'm sorry," she said, crying. "I apologize to the court."
Circuit Judge Shawn Crane then sentenced Miller, a 30-year-old mother of two, to 90 days in jail for disobeying his orders.
The Florida Bar took Miller's law license and shut down her law practice earlier this year amid a slew of client complaints that she took their money and did shoddy work — or no work at all.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is also investigating the disappearance of more than $200,000 in client money from her firm. Miller has denied taking the money and has blamed her former paralegal.
Miller then lost her freedom on June 23, when the judge found her guilty of indirect criminal contempt of court for ignoring his commands to appear in court. The judge wanted Miller to explain why she failed to return $28,000 to an ex-client, money that is also now missing.
"I'm satisfied with that (sentence)," said William Morales, the former client.
But he doesn't accept Miller's contrition.
"When you're incarcerated," he said, "you'd do anything to get out."
Jamal Thalji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.