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JUDGE PHILLIPS: Why I declined to swear-in circuit clerk on Jan. 1, 2011

JUDGE PHILLIPS: Why I declined to swear-in circuit clerk on Jan. 1, 2011

April 30, 2012

A recent posting (see blog at “Received a letter in the mail about Dennis Milligan”) has rekindled discussion about my declining Mr. Milligan’s request to swear him in on January 1, 2011. I have been called a “misfit,” among other things, and an embarrassment to the judiciary. The Code of Judicial Conduct allows me to respond to such criticism.

I arrived at the courthouse January 1, 2011, to perform a ceremonial duty. I was volunteering my time...

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Did Milligan fire these employees before he took office?

Whoopi, I researched this one and found out that each of the ladies were hand delivered a letter of dismissal on the first day back to work after the Christmas holiday.  Milligan didn't deliver it himself, he had his newly hired "Chief of Staff" personally deliver the letters. 

Judge Philips' rant in the Sunday Courier was riddled with misinformation and distortions I will be dealing with later.  In my opinion, he stepped into some potentially perilous territory by pretending to respond to content in a libelous letter that his op-ed suspciously repeated his own content from, and by choosing now -- just three weeks from a primary -- to put his neck out in a thinly disguised Milligan hit piece.

Having said that, I will inform both of you, as I will also inform thousands of readers in the coming next installment of the Dennis Milligan Factual Clearinghouse blog, of the following with more details coming:

  • No one was fired from the Circuit Clerk's office.  This is not an exercise in semantics, but very specific legal distinctions. 
  • Under law, they were presented with letters, not of dismissal, but of non-selection.  Under the "at will" provisions of State law, THREE, not FIVE women (as erroneously reported) were non-selected and were thanked for their service. 
  • ONE additional non-selection was a retiree, who was given her own letter on recommendation of the county attorney.  This was for purely legal reasons and Milligan reassured her that nothing negative was reflected in her receipt of the letter.
  • The non-selection of Dana Mattingly came after a confrontation ensued with Milligan, falsely attributed to Facebook postings and wrongly alleging First Amendment violations.  Mattingly was given an opportunity to reconcile with Milligan and restore her job.  She refused.
  • NONE of these women had a "right" to a position in the office.  Service was not and has never been based on criteria such as experience or longevity of service.  The "50 years" that Phillips and the libeous letter both refer to is itself an indictment of Saline County politics that such longevity was even possible in an "at will" office.  It speaks to the entrenchment of a political subculture that any employees "at will" could rack up such time in employment.
  • Each of these women knew that their positions were "at will" and that they could be non-selected at ANY time and for ANY reason that did not violate Federal rules regarding discrimination.  NO ONE is entitled to a job in an elected office, but everyone from Judge Phillips down seems to be struggling with this fact.  I will provide greater clarity on these issues within the week.

The letters were delivered by Mr. Harris, as you have reported.  When faced with an unpleasant task and clearly emotionally distraught individuals, it was understandable.  No further confrontation was needed.

I hope you both found my research to be helpful.

We've been waiting for two weeks now, Mr. Tripp, for this enlightening "Clearinghouse" post. WHEN OH WHEN WILL WE BE SET STRAIGHT? /hums Jeopardy theme

It's coming, TheLies.  It's coming.  Can't stand it, can you?  I'm just waiting for some final data to come in, likely today.  Then it goes up, and then do I so want to hear from you before anyone else.  Bring your A game, sir.  You're going to need it.  It'll be fun.  Here's a hint -- I have all of the marbles.  You have none. (Superman theme in background....)

The Saline Courier 12/29/10

Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan has terminated four people from the clerk's office before he has officially started his term, The Saline Courier has learned. Another person was also dismissed from her duties, but she had already planned on leaving the office this week because of retirement.

"This is nothing different than a new governor taking over," Milligan told The Saline Courier on Tuesday afternoon.

Milligan said he did not meet with the people he dismissed.

When asked about the experience of the replacements who will be coming to work in the clerk's office, Milligan told the Courier, "they technically do not have experience in a clerk's office ...."

Waiting for someone else to write it for you Ricky?

There is such a huge difference between a new governor taking over and a new circuit clerk.  Wow. 

How honorable of Judge Phillips to do everything to keep this matter private - even when the meritless complaint filed against him was dismissed he didn't see the need to publicize that.  It makes perfect sense that he couldn't administer that oath because to replace several experienced staff members with people who do not have experience in the clerk's office is guaranteed to adversely affect the operation of the office.

Saline County is lucky to have a fine jurist like Judge Phillips.   

Please don't come out accusing Grisham Phillips of the timing of his response being on purpose. He is one of the best we could ask for to be a judge in our county. The reason he made this comment now, which it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see, is because he has been accused of wrong doing on this site. No other reason. He has never publicly mentioned this until others brought it up. He did not say onemean nor dushoest thing in his letter. Pick on someone of your own caliber! He is way above what has gone on on this site.

"were non-selected and were thanked for their service. "

Being fired from a job they worked so hard at for many years only to be replaced by inexpierenced friends of Milligans is not much of a  "thank you for your service". This is why im voting against Milligan because he does not care about the efficiency of the office, only the buddy system.

Cronyism at its best:

(krō'nē-ĭz'əm) pronunciation n.
Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications, as in political appointments to office.

No one brought anything up.  Examine the hate letter.  Phillips referenced it as if it contained material that was critical of him.  In fact, there are two sections of the letter, both of which predate his published comments by weeks, that suspiciously mirror comments he made in his Courier rant.

The Courier commentary was, in my opinion, a deliberately timed hit piece, not out of a Code-protected interest in defending himself (since no one was attacking him then or now), with the purpose of adding what he thought was his gravitas and justification over his refusal to administer the oath of office to Milligan.  He dressed it up to appear to be adhering to some high standards he set for himself, when instead it was a petty political attack and the inappropriate use of a sacred public ceremony to voice his opposition to the non-selection of staffers he had come to like.

It is a transparent attempt to make the clerk appear incompetent and vile, and he had no other basis for writing it.  His argument that he is responding to criticism rings hollow.  Whatever criticisms I made of him here -- the only ones I know of -- were 18 months ago, posed as questions in an open letter.  Other than that blog, no other material of even a remotely critical nature have been written about him since.

So exactly what was he responding to?  What was a circuit judge doing cruising a social website like this, to the extent that he identified, spotlighted and even mirrored remarks in a vicious, anonymous, hate-filled, libelous letter full of misinformation and outright lies?  And then framed his remarks as a "response" protected by the Judicial Code of Conduct?

He then proceeded to quote seven judges he refused to name, solely on the basis that one of them allegedly did not grant permission to use his name.  If these judges felt so strongly, why wouldn't they want their names used?  Having read the alleged remarks, I am having a difficult time believing that actual judges would spew out such misinformed statements actually defending a JUDGE picking and choosing who he would and would not swear in on a day that is supposed to be treated with reverence and respect.

Is this how he conducts his court?  Does he just as readily allow his personal, private political ideas, beliefs, prejudices, preferences and disagreements taint his judicial decisions?  Where does it stop?  What if he decided that he objected to HALF of the people scheduled to be sworn in?  Is it okay to put the ones you like on the left side of the room, swear in the ones on the right side, and walk out?

Where does duty begin?  Phillips claims that his function that day was not a duty.  I maintain otherwise.  It became a duty the moment that the senior judge requested that he do it, and he accepted the task.  All he had to do was recite the oath, allow the clerk to repeat it, and go home.

But he couldn't even do that right.  He even made the bizarre public assertion that his swearing in Milligan would somehow constitute "foisting" him on the public, the very people who had just elected him.  How does administering an oath of office have the effect of "foisting" an elected official on a public that chose him to serve?  He had to inject his own opinions about Milligan's decisions -- ones that are going to look very different tomorrow and Thursday when the real facts are posted.

No issue was raised by anyone this time other than Phillips, and he had a thoroughly transparent reason for doing so that had nothing to do with the scandalous letter posted here -- one that he may be more connected to than anyone realizes, based on the fact that eerily similar versions of statements in it also appear in his written remarks for the Courier.  I will be presenting that analysis, along with a longer form criticism of his editorial, in an upcoming blog titled, "Another Open Letter to Judge Grisham Phillips."

Admire him at your own risk.  I am not attacking him.  I am illuminating him.

My challenge to Brenda Rhodes, and only Brenda Rhodes:

I am not giving passes any longer to people who make irresponsible or unsubstantiated statements and then fail to back them up.  I am calling you out, right here, right now.

You said: "The reason he made this comment now, which it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see, is because he has been accused of wrong doing on this site. No other reason."

PROVE IT NOW.  If he was accused of "wrong doing" on this site, provide the link that accusation, the name of its author and/or copy and paste it to this blog for all of us to read.  Otherwise, admit that you do not know where such a remark was made, that you assumed it was done, and retract the statement.

As the only known critic who has voiced objections to his past conduct on this site, nothing I have written was an accusation of wrongdoing.  I questioned his judgment in deciding at a wholly inappropriate time to use an oath of office ceremony as a private political protest, and agreed with the assertions of a complaint against him that, in fact, he had violated Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.  That does not constitute an accusation of wrongdoing, but of unethical and unprofessional behavior.

His remarks and actions are all a matter of public record.  My assessment and opinions of him are based entirely on that record.

Lost Juvenile found

payton was found today. Juvenile Officer Myka Sample tracked him down near JJ's truckstop, to a home where he had been staying for the last week. She took him into custody around 6 pm today. He was reunited with his mother. She is very greatful for the work Mrs. Sample put into finding her son.


Looks like Ms. Samples is doing some good while Mr. Milligan is busy horseracing. Imagine what she can do to that office when she gets in there.


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