Local judge honored for accomplishments, rushing to colleague's aid
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio —
A local judge received recognition Tuesday after she rushed to her colleague’s aid after he was shot outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in August.
As a result of this and other accomplishments, Common Pleas Court Judge Michelle Garcia Miller has been honored with an award of a lifetime.
"Surprised,” Miller said. “Complete surprise.”
That was what Miller felt when her name was called to receive one of only two awards given out per year in all 88 counties in Ohio.
"I took the bench in 2015 and I've worked hard to establish the drug court program,” Miller said.
It is all of Miller’s hard work that leads to the presentation of the prestigious Award of Excellence at the Winter Conference by the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association.
"It was quite an honor to receive this award,” Miller said.
Her recognition came in part after her heroic actions in August.
A man, who police later identified as Nathaniel Richmond, shot Judge Joseph Bruzzese in an ambush outside the courthouse. A patrol officer returned fire, killing Richmond.
Miller was on her way to the courthouse when she learned what happened. Drawing from her previous years of nursing experience, Miller rushed to Bruzzese’s aid.
"In fact, I could not have gotten to Judge Bruzzese fast enough,” she said. “I would hope that every person would have reacted and rendered aid to a fellow citizen under the same circumstances.”
Despite that day, Miller sees the county as a great one that has a lot to offer to its citizens.
Miller wants her award to show that Jefferson County is a wonderful place to be.
"I could not be more honored to serve the people of Jefferson County,” Miller said.
Bruzzese was also in on the surprise.
"He knew about this award and he is partially responsible for making sure I attended the banquet,” Miller said. "I usually get a little bit embarrassed, and it was at home for a while and now I brought it, and it’s on the book shelf in my office.”
The award serves as a displayed reminder that good things come from selflessness.
"I had no idea that I would be recognized for this,” Miller said. “I was completely honored and humbled, completely taken aback.”
"It makes it so much easier knowing I have a colleague like Judge Bruzzese,” she said.
While walking out of the courthouse Tuesday afternoon, Miller shared another piece of information with NEWS9 she was just as proud of: having three individuals graduate from her drug court program Tuesday.