JUDGE: RAPE TRIAL WAS UNFAIR (Says defense lawyer erred)

David Miller reluctantly accepted the appointment of a new lawyer after his lawyer fell ill just days before Miller's trial seven years ago on charges of raping his girlfriend's 8 year old daughter.  That attorney, the late John Jiras of Water Mill, was so ineffective that a federal judge ruled last month that the 1996 trial resulting in Miller's conviction was unfair.  Judge Denis Hurley ruled that Jiras, who died in 2001, let Miller down in several ways after being appointed by Suffolk County Court Judge Gary Weber.  He failed to contact medical and psychological experts on child sexual abuse.  Perhaps as a result, he didn't challenge medical testimony at the trial, which was the main evidence corroborating the girl's claims that Miller raped and sodomized her several times in 1993.  Miller is serving a sentence of 18 to 54 years in the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora.  The Suffolk district attorney's office has 60 days from when the ruling was issued at the end of June to decide whether to retry him or let him go free.  Miller has always insisted on his innocence.  Hurley noted that Miller turned down a plea offer of 2 to 6 years in prison before the trial.

(New York)