Sep 30, 2012

Dennis Milligan Nominated for The G. Thomas Munsterman Award

PHOTO: The Republican team: (from left to right) Former Texarkana resident Jim Harris, chief of staff, Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan, who is also a former chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, and former Texarkana resident Gary Underoowd, former Minister of Media at Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana.

BENTONAR -- Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan is one of 12 nominees for the prestigious G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation.
The Munsterman Award recognizes states, local courts, organizations or individuals that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations and practices.
Milligan said he had help from two former Texarkana residents. Jim Harris, who is a former city editor of the Texarkana Gazette, and is Milligan's chief of staff. Gary Underwood, who was Minister of Media at Beech Street First Baptist Church, is Milligan's jury coordinator.
,Milligan, who is serving his first term as circuit clerk, was nominated for his jury notification system. That system replaces a method that required jury panel members to call a recorded message each week to find out if they were needed for jury service.
Milligan’s system notifies jurors by calls to their cell or home phone, an e-mail or text message.
“In Saline County, about 98 percent of all our cases settle instead of going to trial. Some of them settle at the last minute, and under the old system we had no way to notify jurors after they had called the recording number. My system gives me the ability to not waste jurors’ time if a case settles just hours before the trial begins,” Milligan said. “Not only does it save jurors’ time, it also saves the county money.”
Each jury panel has between 40—50 people on it. When jurors come to the court house for jury service, they are paid $25 per day even if the case settles before they arrive.
Milligan polls jurors after each term of service ends. Those polls show 99 percent of former jurors like Milligan’s notification system.
Court clerks from as far away as Michigan have called Milligan’s office to ask for details of how the Milligan system works.
“We are particularly impressed with Mr. Milligan’s use of contemporary communications technologies to remind jurors of their upcoming jury service date, which has significantly increased juror appearance rates,” Gregory S. Hurley, NCSC’s Senior Knowledge Management Analyst said.
While Milligan is the first Arkansan ever nominated for this prestigious award, he is not the 2012 winner.
The Michigan Supreme Court is the recipient of the 2012 award.  
The Michigan Supreme Court and the judges who participated in the 2009-2010 Michigan jury reform pilot project were involved in a two-year effort to test and examine a variety of in-court techniques designed to improve juror comprehension, performance and satisfaction.  
There were 12 nominations from around the country for the Munsterman Award.
“It is an honor to be nominated for this national award,” Milligan said. “The Michigan Supreme Court did some great work and I am glad the court got the Munsterman award. I support anything that advances our right to a trial by an unbiased jury.”
The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in WilliamsburgVa., is a nonprofit court reform organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.
In 2008, NCSC created the G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation to recognize states, local courts, organizations, or individuals who make significant improvements in jury procedures.
The NCSC headquarters in WilliamsburgVa., houses the Research and Technology Services, Knowledge and Information Services, Association Management, Communications and Publications, and the Institute for Court Management (Education) divisions. It serves as the primary hub and meeting point for all the center's various activities and houses the NCSC's library which contains the largest known collection of court-administration materials
Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious awards in the American judicial system, according to the NCSC.
Munsterman was the founder and former director of NCSCs’ Center for Jury Studies. He retired from NCSC on July 30, 2010, after more than 30 years of working to improve jury service
In 2008, Munsterman received the Jury System Impact Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on the American Jury “in recognition of extraordinary efforts in the improvement and strengthening of the American jury system.”

Munsterman authored and co-authored numerous books and wrote a commissioned paper "Innovations in Jury Trial Procedures" for the American Bar Association and Brookings Institution Symposium on the Future of the Civil Jury System in the U.S. He assisted the Russian government in re-establising trial by jury after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Article and photograph submitted by Jim Harris, Chief of Staff for Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan.

Sep 11, 2012

In God We Trust

Diana Hood with "In God We Trust"

Diana Hood was a local artist dedicated to God, her country, and her family.  She lived a life surrounded by those she loved, including her husband and friends.  A few days ago she slipped peacefully away to join her Lord and wait on the arrival of the rest of her family.  Diana Hood succumbed to the brain cancer that had ravaged her for years.

As an artist, Diana never gave up on her passion for painting and design.  When asked by the Miller County Republican Committee to provide a special painting for the planned headquarters, she agreed immediately.  For over a week, Diana labored through the pain.  Her love for God, her country and fellow Republicans propelled her forward to complete a beautiful painting at the headquarters. 

Friends noted that Diana would paint, stop, rest, and even sit down for long periods of time.  As soon as she regained her strength, she would return to the task.  She had one simple mission in mind.  She wanted to provide the Republican Headquarters for the 2012 election year with a picture of the American Flag and the words, “In God We Trust”.  Time continued and hours became days.  Finally, when she had finished, headquarters staff took several pictures of Diana with her flag and the motto.  She was proud of the accomplishment. 

Diana Hood never attended a meeting at the new headquarters, but people took notice.  Few have entered the headquarters without commenting on how beautiful the flag looks.  At night, when the headquarters closes, lights are left on near the flag.  It is one of the few areas illuminated both day and night.  When Diana passed away, she was able to leave one, last contributing piece of art to the Miller County Republican Party and for the nation she loved.  She was able to incorporate God, the most important aspect of her life, into her art. 

At the end of the year, the headquarters will be released and new renters will likely move into it.  Sadly, they may even decide to paint over Diana’s painting.  In the meantime, headquarters staff continue to take pictures, share Diana’s story, and preserve the image digitally for the committee records.   The work will not be lost thanks to photography.   Diana’s work will live on in pictures of the painting named “In God We Trust”.  Facing her final months of life, Diana gave back in the only way she could.  She gave in her art.  “In God We Trust” was Diana Hood’s last painting.

Sep 2, 2012

R or O and What it Really Means in November

President Obama seems to think that big government is the way to make the economy grow.  He in particular seems to think that government control of everything is the proper way to fix our nation’s problems.  Unfortunately, Obama has failed to learn from history.  Maybe this fundamental failure to understand history is one of the reasons he was not a highly respected professor.  Nonetheless, he has failed to understand that the government has accomplished the most when it interferes the least.

From the days of the founders, the government has relied on the people.  Anytime in history, when people have started to rely on their government, the government failed.  Ultimately, when the government failed, the nation failed, and when the nation failed, a new nation was formed.  Someone only has to look to the Soviet Union to see a prime example of the people depending on the government.  In the Soviet Union people depended on the government for food, electricity, news, vehicles, direction, etc.  They depended on it for everything.  In the end, the Soviet Union failed. 

Consider this in the Revolutionary War; the government did not defend the people.  The people defended the government.  Farmers, businesspersons, ship builders, blacksmith, physicians, preachers, and others all came together to defend the government.  The government essentially had nothing.  The government had no money, no tax system, no army, no ships, no food, no national currency, and even no building of its own.  The Declaration of Independence was drawn up in a Masonic Lodge.  The founders contributed their own money to fund the government.  The truth is the only thing the government had was some papers saying it was a government.  People came forward with their skills, abilities, money, and assets and they supported the government. 

Fast forward through all the trials this country has faced and it has always been the people who have supported the government, not the government supporting people.  At least it has been this way until recently.  When Obama took office, he immediately began doing exactly what he said he would do.  He began to force people to redistribute wealth.  He instituted a failed Soviet policy to take money from the rich and give it to the poor.  He gave away money, he gave away healthcare, he gave away cell phones, and he even gave away the Chrysler Corporation (check your records and you will see he sold it at a loss to an Italian company, Fiat).  To be blunt, he gave, gave, gave, gave, and gave.  The only problem is, he gave what was not his to give.  He gave your money away.  Obama failed to realize that until the early 1900s, this country did not even have an income tax!  The government was sponsored by the people, not through force, but through pride.  When the United States entered World War 2, the people won the war, not the government.  People worked in factories, farms, and on the front lines to ensure the United States did not become the socialist form of government that Hitler wanted.  In the end, the United States won the war, not the government.  Today, Obama has forgotten these basic principles.  Obama has forgotten that while people need help from time-to-time that ultimately people need to know how to fish, not simply be given a fish.  Obama wants Americans, every American, to be dependent on the government for everything.  Obama wants a socialist form of government that has failed repeatedly.  It failed in Nazi Germany, it failed in the Soviet Union, it is failing in Cuba, it is failing in North Korea, and it will ultimately fail in China. 

On November 6, if American’s go to the poles and elect Obama again, they will be electing him to a position where he can truly implement his plans to bring America into a socialist form of government.  Fortunately, Americans have a choice.

Mitt Romney is an American who understands American principles.  Like Ronald Reagan, Romney understands that the government should not support people, but that people should support the government.  The government is to work for the people, not run people’s lives.  Romney has seen what it takes to build companies.  He has seen what it takes to recover from hardships and financial crisis.  Romney has been a leader on the front lines when things did not look good.  Most importantly, Romney knows socialism fails.  Romney knows that the only way America is going to recover is to recover with the work of the people.  He knows the government is not the answer.  Romney will help the people by helping the government get out of the people’s way. 

In November, the choice is bigger than Republican or Democrat.  The choice, as many Democrats supporting Romney know, is for the America we built, or for the socialist America that Obama wants to finalize.  This November it is not about an “R” or a “D” behind the name.  This November the “R” in Romney means “Rebuild” and the “O” in Obama simply means it is “Over”….