Federal judge, former Columbia County DA Roger Miner dies at home in Hudson
HUDSON, N.Y. — Roger J. Miner, a federal appeals court judge for nearly three decades who was among finalists for a Supreme Court opening in 1987, died Saturday. He was 77.
Paul Silver, a federal prosecutor who once clerked for Miner, said he died of heart failure at his home in Hudson.
“He was an incredibly brilliant man,” said Silver, who was a law clerk for Miner from 1982 to 1984. “He was totally devoted to the law as much as he was to his family and friends. ... He was working right up to the last days of his life.”
Miner, a former Columbia County district attorney, was appointed to the federal bench in Albany in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. He was elevated to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan in 1985 and took senior status in 1997, enabling him to be more selective about his work.
Miner’s wife, Jacqueline, recalled he was one of three finalists for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 and that he did not hide his support for a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion when the subject was raised by those helping Reagan narrow his choices.
“I screamed at him” after hearing him boldly pronounce his position on the subject when she thought it might have been wiser to mask his feelings about it, Mrs. Miner recalled.
Then she got choked up in a telephone interview as she recalled what he said in response to her challenge: “He said, ‘My reputation is too big a price to pay for a seat on the Supreme Court.’”
Mrs. Miner, a former vice chairman of the New York State Republican Party, said her husband was never bitter about falling just short of the nation’s highest court.
“He was such a humble man. He never held a grudge,” she said.
Longtime friend Lance Wheeler said integrity “was really the centerpiece of Roger.” Continued...
Dan Isaacson, who also clerked for Miner, recalled him as “a great man and a giant” who had a dry sense of humor.
Isaacson said Miner “never lost his touch of who he was and where he came from. He came from humble beginnings and rose to the very top of the judicial world.”
Born in Hudson, Miner graduated from the State University of New York and with honors from New York Law School, where he was managing editor of the Law Review in 1956.
He served active duty as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps from 1956 until 1959, eventually attaining the rank of captain.
In 1959, he joined his father, Abram Miner, in private law practice in Hudson, where he served from 1961 through 1964 as the city’s corporation counsel.
He was assistant district attorney of Columbia County in 1964 and county district attorney from 1968 to 1975.
In 1976, he was elected a justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Third Judicial District, where he remained until his federal appointment.
He also has held teaching positions from 1986 to 1996 at the New York Law School and at Albany Law School since 1997.
Besides his wife of 36 years, Miner is survived by sons Larry Miner of Santa Monica, Calif., Ronald Carmichael of Alexandria, Va., Ralph Carmichael of Phoenix, Ariz. and Mark Miner of Austin, Texas; his brother Lance Miner of Greenport; six grandchildren; and a nephew and niece.
Miner’s funeral, being arranged by the Bates and Anderson Funeral Home in Hudson, will be on Wednesday. The family requested memorial contributions be made to Congregation Anshe Emeth, where Miner was a member.
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