Fort Smith attorney Phil Milligan announced Tuesday (June 11) he will seek election to the Division VI, Sebastian County Circuit Court bench now held by Judge James Cox who is retiring. Milligan will face Deputy Public Defender Rita Howard Watkins who announced May 21 for the race.
The election is set for March 3, 2020.
Milligan has been practicing attorney in Fort Smith more than 25 years. He was appointed in the fall of 2018 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the Board of Trustees for the State Police Retirement Board. He also currently or previously has served on the Boards of various non-profit organizations including AOREPA (Arkansas-Oklahoma Regional Education and Promotion Association, Inc.), also known as the Arkansas Oklahoma Fair and Rodeo Board. Milligan was a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Milwaukee, Wisc., before returning to his hometown of Fort Smith to practice law.
“My background in both law enforcement and over twenty-five years of general practice in Fort Smith, makes me uniquely qualified for this particular position,” Milligan noted in a statement. “The sixteen weeks I spent in Quantico, Virginia, for the detailed FBI agent training, is the best law enforcement training in the world, and those lessons and experiences have stayed with me throughout my life.”
Milligan received his bachelor’s degree in biological science from Arkansas Tech University and his law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He resides in Fort Smith with his wife of 30 year, Julie and they have one son.
“If elected, my pledge is simple. I will treat everybody in the litigation process with the respect and dignity they deserve, and will always, in every case, rule in accordance with the letter of the law.”
Following are other announcements for regional judicial posts.
• Deputy Public Defender Wendy Sharum announced May 13 her candidacy for Fort Smith District Court, Division Two, for the election also set for March 2020.
• Dianna Hewitt Ladd and Judge Jim O’Hern announced May 8 their bids for election and re-election, respectively, for judicial posts. Ladd is running for the newly created Sebastian County Judge post, and O’Hern seeks re-election to position one of the Fort Smith District Court.
• Administrative Law Judge Amy Grimes on April 30 announced her candidacy for the position O’Hern holds.