One topic that comes up frequently when talking with Monte Miller is “service.” Miller served his country while working on the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps over a military career that has spanned 24 years. He currently works in public service as a prosecutor for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. He also serves the legal community by representing the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association on the HCBA Board of Directors.
After law school, working for a law firm didn’t appeal to Miller. After clerking for the Honorable Mary Louis Klas, in Ramsey County District Court, he wanted to get more experience in the courtroom. A few attorneys recommended that he look into the Judge Advocate General (JAG) program—the legal department of the different service branches.
“It sort of fed into my strong desire to serve. I always felt like I missed the boat in high school, so I didn't enlist. Then I didn't really know a lot about the military and then when I looked into it I saw that it was an opportunity for me to get some experience, leave Minnesota, go out on my own and travel, and serve my country,” said Miller.
Miller ended up traveling all over the world and working on a variety of cases over his eight years on active duty. “You'd get a phone call and they'd say they needed a defense lawyer on the USS America. You'd show up at the terminal and they'd land you on the carrier. And you'd meet your client, do your investigation and figure out what was going on. That was the good thing about the military, everything was contained so all the witnesses were there unless it was something that happened out in town,” said Miller. He also later worked at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and as an appellate judge on the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.
Wanting to settle down, Miller looked for a public attorney job back in Minnesota. Eventually, he got a job with the Hennepin county attorney’s office after Amy Klobuchar gave him a call.
About a decade ago, Miller wanted to get more involved with his heritage. A Korean-American, Miller got involved with the Minnesota Asian Pacific Bar Association (MNAPBA). There was an opening for a board representative to the HCBA and Miller took the opportunity. “I feel like I'm contributing the community and my job,” he said.
Miller believes that public service is an essential part of the legal field, even if it is usually overlooked. “You have to look inside yourself and ask, what's going to make your tank full as far as contributing? What I would say is that public service is something that you get great satisfaction out of because you know the work that you do is making the community safer and better.”