The appellate judges said the alleged incidents occurred in early 2017 but that Miller waited until 2019 to inform the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In July 2021, Miller sued the council, its executive director Omotayo B. Alli, the Chattahoochee Circuit Public Defender’s Office and its chief public defender, Moffett Flournoy.
“Miller’s delay is inconsistent with the exercise of reasonable diligence in the pursuit of her claims,” the panel said. “Under the most generous interpretation of her complaint, the period to file an EEOC charge for her (Civil Rights Act) claim ended sometime in 2018. And the limitations period for her to sue on her (Equal Protection Clause) claims expired in 2019.”
Miller, who represented herself in the case, declined to comment on the decision when contacted Friday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Her lawsuit alleged that the Chattahoochee Circuit Public Defender’s Office in Columbus hired several new attorneys in 2017, all of whom were white. Miller claimed that she asked chief assistant public defender Steve Craft whether anyone of racial minority had applied for the positions, to which Craft responded that the office did not want to lower its standards.
Miller said she reported the comment to Flournoy, who told her that he did not consider race when hiring and wanted attorneys who could perform like her. Craft purportedly denied that his comment was about race, arguing he meant the office sought qualified people.
Miller also claimed she was reprimanded by Flournoy in 2017 after being notified that an appeal she had filed in a client’s case was due to be dismissed because she had failed to sign the appeal documents. Miller alleged she was busy with a trial at the time and asked for Craft’s assistance with the appeal issue, but that Flournoy refused to withdraw the reprimand.
She claimed the Georgia Public Defender Council did not respond to her attempt to report Flournoy’s refusal as retaliation for her complaint about Craft’s comment.
Miller further alleged that her workload increased in 2017, though she was excluded from an office-wide pay raise. She said Craft falsely led her to believe that the salary increases were not provided when she learned of them in 2019.
Eleventh Circuit judges Britt C. Grant, Nancy G. Abudu and R. Lanier Anderson III described Miller’s race bias allegations as “threadbare,” concluding that a Georgia federal judge correctly dismissed her complaint in July 2022.
The Georgia Public Defender Council did not immediately comment on the case Friday.