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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 www.mysaline.com “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...

Read the rest at http://bentoncourier.com/content/judge-phillips-why-i-declined-swea...

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I agree with you Henry.....mostly.  Milligan WAS in public with this.  He got broadsided.  Not a lot of choice there.  Phillips is FORREST GUMP.  If he doesn't like being criticized, he needs to behave better.  My boy Milligan did not violate anyone's First Amendment rights.  That's too freakin' easy.  See, it's playin' to the law.  Law says you can let 'em go for ANY reason at ANY time, man.  Except for one thing -- violating Federal law about not doin' it for discrimination reasons.

You think about this.  An elected official's got a pass, he can let them go at will, then he's gonna turn around and use an ILLEGAL REASON to do it??  And this dude, Phillips, ain't got no RIGHT to vett the clerk after we all elected him and decide what's gonna happen next.

He said he'd swear everybody in, and the little kid didn't do it, stompin' his feet over one guy cause he let his friends go.  Too bad, Grish.  Get over it.  Just clearing it up, Henry, Grish was the kid here, not Dennis.  All he did was show up and expect to have a great day.  And Grish ruined it.  You're a good guy, man, thanks for writing some of the only smart stuff on here.

Henry said:

The thing is, regardless of whether or not the evidence was overwhelmingly in support of Milligan violating these women's First Amendment rights (no such claims had yet been made), Milligan did not get the benefit of the doubt from Judge Phillips.  Instead, Judge Phillips refused to swear in a public official that had been elected by the people based on the assumption that he had about Milligan's actions.  That's it, that's the end of the story.  His actions were childish and uncalled for.  Then again, so were Milligan's when he went public with this.  Two big kids in the sandlot fighting over a toy, only this toy is the Circuit Courts.

Undertaker, you are not helping your cause by calling the other candidate names and resorting to ad hominem attacks.  I am not absolving Milligan for his actions, I am simply saying that it is not my place, nor was it Judge Phillips' place, to declare his actions unconstitutional without going through the proper channels.  He could very well be found to be in violation but to date, this has not yet happened (despite what others will say, a settlement is not sufficient to say).  Both have handled this childishly.

Oh lady, you are so far off the reservation.  It doesn't work like that.  That is the most flimsy, tired excuse for not changing a staff I've ever heard.  So what you're really telling me is that my boy Milligan should have left all of these ladies in place who had racked up 50 years, who hated him cause he beat their boss and would have maybe sabotaged him in the office ALL BECAUSE it might "cost the taxpayers" to train new people.

Here's a newsflash for you, girl -- NOBODY but NOBODY comes into that office "experienced."  Everybody's gotta figure out what they're doing, and it's all done under a budget anyway that's set by the county.  As long as the budget is met, and the job gets done, the taxpayer isn't paying anything extra out of pocket.

They do this stuff to get the job done, and by god, he has the right to have whoever working for him he wants.

T.A. Williams said:

The difference is he is not answering to shareholders, he is answering to taxpayers and this hard-working, tax paying woman doesn't want my taxes paying to train a new office staff every time someone new wins an election.  In ANY office.  Why should I?  Why should any of us?  I can voice my opinion,  I'm a voter and I pay taxes.  If there are people already in place with knowledge of the job and are performing there jobs well, why replace them and have to train new people.  It's just not a good business practice.   But, it is politics!   

Lawchic said:

Really people?!?!?!  This has gotten so completely out of control.  I can understand friendship and loyalty but the bottom line is that Doug Kidd lost his bid for re-election for whatever the reasons.  Dennis Milligan won the election. He won it fair and square by a majority of the voting population in Saline County.  As a result, people were replaced.  It happens every day all over the country. 

 

What about all of the people in this country who were fired or "laid off" during the downward spiral of the economy the last few years?  I know people personally who spent their entire adulthoods working hard, building their retirements and lining the pockets of share holders in major organizations only to have it all ripped out from under them in one fell swoop.  Why?  Because the share holders weren't making enough money.  They wanted more.  So fewer bodies, fewer retirements to contribute to, fewer benefits to pay means more money in their pockets.  No faces, no destroyed lives, no bankruptcies or foreclosures for them to have to face.  It's sad but it's a true fact of life these days.  But there were no guarantees for those employees.  They just had to suck it up, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and carry on - it's part of life.  Same for these county employees that are so upset that they filed lawsuits and are raging still over a year later.  Sometimes life just isn't fair but no one is irreplaceable and if you think you are then you are sadly living in a fantasy world.

 

He won the election.  He chose his staff.  The office is running well.  Good grief!!  Get over it!!  Mama never promised you a rose garden.

Hey, you know who WILL come to the office of the Circuit Clerk with experience? MYKA BONO SAMPLE.

MYKA BONO SAMPLE....BRINGING EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE BACK TO THE OFFICE

 

EXPERIENCE

3 YEARS SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT CLERK'S OFFICE

4 YEARS BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT CLERK'S OFFICE

    (2 years as office manager with a staff of 21 employees)

WORKED TO IMPLEMENT ELECTRONIC RECORDING

WORKED TO REVAMP CHILD SUPPORT PROGRAM

nitwit [ˈnɪtˌwɪt]

n
Informala foolish person
[perhaps from nit1 + wit1]

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

 

Let me see if I understand this correctly.

For posting a comment back in April, expressing the opinion that Judge Grisham Phillips was a foolish person (aka "nitwit," see definition above), an opinion I maintain, and for accurately stating that he refused to swear in the circuit clerk, as well as grouping him with "bashers" (read that as "opponents") of the clerk, and describing him as "disgraced" (which in my opinion, he is), my comments were worthy of lengthy research, reposting and highlighting by none other than the Case Coordinator for the Judge?

I am the reason that he responded with nearly a half-page editorial filled with completely inaccurate information and invalid positions?  An anonymous blogger cloaked by an iconic legendary figure?  Over an issue that was no longer an issue?

Further, that this judge also used an equally anonymous and libelous letter on a social website as the context and backdrop for his ill-chosen comments, and according to Mr. Tripp, even repeated a bizarre concept from the letter in his own signed statement and expected no one to make a connection between the two?

And it's just a coincidence that the election is a mere three weeks away?  And he is a known opponent?

Fascinating, Judge Phillips.  Both you and your case coordinator clearly think we are all stupid and cannot reason this out.  That is an unfortunate miscalculation.  Evidently, you have decided not to run for re-election, or you'd never resort to behavior challenging your previous misconduct.

I am, however, humbled that I warrant your close attention.  It only serves to further expand my legend.

Lisa Graves said:

In answer to Mr. Tripp's question about where is the bashing? Here it is, highlighted for your convenience in finding it:


Comment by The Shadow on April 12, 2012 at 8:42am

Now, she's running as a Republican against a Republican INCUMBENT.  She's a prop candidate, groomed and selected by members of the Old Way.  One of Milligan's staunchest opponents was SEEN by my operatives at a gathering for Myka, endorsing her -- none other than Circuit Judge Grisham Phillips, the misfit who REFUSED to swear Milligan into office, disgracing himself and the entire court.

Comment by The Shadow on April 12, 2012 at 12:39pm

You are on here trying to bash someone that voted in a Democratic Primary but yet support a person that is supporting a Democratic flip flopper.

FALSE.  I'm bashing someone who voted for Barack Obama in the general election AND in the Democratic primaries, who is now presenting as a Republican against a Republican incumbent.  Ms. Sample is a political puppet, a recruited plant who is being backed by every Milligan basher in the county, right up to and including the disgraced judge who refused to swear him in.  That is all that I need to know -- and a very different picture from the sheriff.


In addition, there is no "senior" judge. There is an ADMINISTRATIVE judge, which is what I believe you are alluding to, Mr. Tripp (Judge Arnold was the Administrative Judge on December 29, 2010, but not January 1, 2011, that would’ve been Judge Herzfeld) but the Administrative Judge has no power OVER the other judges. He is not their boss. It is only a position required by the AOC to basically oversee the circuit court system in each county.


And with regard to the letters in support of Judge Phillips that were sent to the committee that you refer to in your post, The Courier required that Judge Phillips produce the original letters and the sworn affidavit from Lynn Hart so that they could verify them before they would publish them anonymously. He did, and they did. Brent Davis can confirm this.

The shadow says:

"I am the reason that he responded with nearly a half-page editorial filled with completely inaccurate information and invalid positions?"

Could you please be more specific as to what statements in the letter contain inaccurate information and invalid positions?  

Are you proclaiming to be wiser than the esteemed panelists of the JDDC?  That's the Judicial Discipline & Disablity Commission to whom you complained when Judge Phillips quietly refused to swear in Milligan.  Those fine folks reviewed every aspect of this matter and dismissed your meritless complaint.


Ms. Graves simply posted the highlighted piece because your buddy RDT categorically denied any malignment of Judge Phillips. 

I will be happy to be more specific.  The following were inaccurate and/or invalid positions presented by Judge Grisham Phillips in his timed-for-the-election "editorial."  Please copy and paste this and distribute it to as many people as you like.  You have my permission to do so:

"The Oath of Office of the Circuit Clerk reads as follows: 'I, [name], do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Arkansas, and I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of the Circuit Clerk upon which I am now about to enter.'  I could not in good faith administer the oath  to a person whom I believed had already violated it." -- Judge Grisham Phillips

Judge Phillips has neither the right nor the authority to make such a determination. He is improperly mixing a privately held opinion, however flawed, with what was an official duty based on his authority as a judge.

The position in and of its own is flawed in its reasoning, since Milligan had not yet taken the oath and therefore could not have “violated” it until after taking it. The key words were “of the office of the Circuit Clerk upon which I am now about to enter.”

In any event, he had not, in fact, violated the oath before or after taking it.  Mr. Milligan had every lawful right to release the employees under the State's "at will" clause.

"In firing five women who had a combined experience of over 50 years, I believed that Mr. Milligan had, in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, denied some of these women their rights to free speech and their rights to associate with whom they pleased. I also believed he had jeopardized the operations of the Circuit Clerk’s office, upon which the Circuit Judges depend, and thus could not in good faith swear to “faithfully discharge the duties.” -- Judge Grisham Phillips

This statement by Judge Phillips is utterly and irretrievably false from start to finish. Mr. Milligan did NOT fire five women. Three women, specifically, Ronda DePriest, Amy Daniel, and Kim Wright were presented with “letters of non-selection,” a specific legal document that had nothing to do with being fired or dismissed, with or without cause. Letters of non-selection simply inform the recipient that their services on staff will not be retained without explanation.  This is closer to a layoff than it is to a dismissal.

In turn, a fourth woman, a retiree named Shirley Edison was presented with a non-selection letter on recommendation by the county attorney. Mr. Milligan explained to Ms. Edison that the letter was presented with the understanding that she had selected retirement and that the reason was solely because of the county attorney’s recommendation.

Dana Mattingly generated a confrontation with Milligan following the non-selection letters, stating that she did not feel she could work for him and that they needed to “go their separate ways,” and Milligan took her remarks as a resignation. Later, she and her attorney falsely charged that Milligan presented her with a non-selection because of remarks made on Facebook, which had no basis whatsoever in fact, but nonetheless resulted in a wrongful cash settlement by the county in the amount of $90K. Other false lawsuits alleging First Amendment violations are pending.

Note: EACH WOMAN signed a statement acknowledging that they were employed in AT WILL positions, from which they could be removed at ANY time and for ANY reason that was non-discriminatory. Charges of constitutional violations were contrived by attorney Luther Sutter, who has represented ALL litigants to date, to give traction to equally false claims that wrongful termination had occurred.  No public official, including Milligan and in consideration of his consultation prior with the county attorney, would resort to releasing someone from employment for discriminatory reasons when the law already provides that no reason must be given.

Referring to the judge's remarks about "50 years," these positions are not based on length of service.  To the contrary, that these women had a collective half century of combined experience is an indictment of the Old Way -- a group that believes it all belongs to them.  It points to the abuses, not the accomplishments, of the Old Way that so many could stay for so long through so many other administrations without challenge.  It points to a single party running the county for decades without checks and balance.

Another inaccurate part of the judge's comments regards his concerns "he (Milligan) had jeopardized the operations of the Circuit Clerk’s office, upon which the Circuit Judges depend, and thus could not in good faith swear to 'faithfully discharge the duties.'"  This turned out to be utterly incorrect, presumptive and without merit.  As recently stated by former Governor Mike Huckabee, Milligan's improvements to the Circuit Clerk's office, in his opinion, merit that it be used as an example and model to other offices statewide.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to post them here.  



Denise T. said:

The shadow says:

"I am the reason that he responded with nearly a half-page editorial filled with completely inaccurate information and invalid positions?"

Could you please be more specific as to what statements in the letter contain inaccurate information and invalid positions?  

Are you proclaiming to be wiser than the esteemed panelists of the JDDC?  That's the Judicial Discipline & Disablity Commission to whom you complained when Judge Phillips quietly refused to swear in Milligan.  Those fine folks reviewed every aspect of this matter and dismissed your meritless complaint.


Ms. Graves simply posted the highlighted piece because your buddy RDT categorically denied any malignment of Judge Phillips. 

NO HOPE.  IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.  I WISH HER WELL.


Annabelle said:

MYKA BONO SAMPLE....BRINGING EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE BACK TO THE OFFICE

 

EXPERIENCE

3 YEARS SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT CLERK'S OFFICE

4 YEARS BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT CLERK'S OFFICE

    (2 years as office manager with a staff of 21 employees)

WORKED TO IMPLEMENT ELECTRONIC RECORDING

WORKED TO REVAMP CHILD SUPPORT PROGRAM

She is a nice woman who is welcome to visit.  But she will NOT be the new Circuit Clerk.

TheTruth said:

Hey, you know who WILL come to the office of the Circuit Clerk with experience? MYKA BONO SAMPLE.

As I read his remarks, sir, I detected a man who was deeply offended by the use of the F word -- something you might want to consider before dressing down our friend, The Undertaker.  The judge drew first blood.

Henry said:

Undertaker, you are not helping your cause by calling the other candidate names and resorting to ad hominem attacks.  I am not absolving Milligan for his actions, I am simply saying that it is not my place, nor was it Judge Phillips' place, to declare his actions unconstitutional without going through the proper channels.  He could very well be found to be in violation but to date, this has not yet happened (despite what others will say, a settlement is not sufficient to say).  Both have handled this childishly.

One more note....I fail to see where The Undertaker called the other candidate names in the case of Milligan and Sample, although he does refer to Mr. Ward as the Smiling Boy.  If that's the worst of it, it's hardly worth noting.  After all, he is symbolized by a wrestler.

Henry said:

Undertaker, you are not helping your cause by calling the other candidate names and resorting to ad hominem attacks.  I am not absolving Milligan for his actions, I am simply saying that it is not my place, nor was it Judge Phillips' place, to declare his actions unconstitutional without going through the proper channels.  He could very well be found to be in violation but to date, this has not yet happened (despite what others will say, a settlement is not sufficient to say).  Both have handled this childishly.

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