Taking the bench on Jan. 1, 1975, Montgomery Circuit Judge Thomas K. Milligan is the second-longest serving trial judge in the state.
But as this year comes to a close, Judge Milligan is officially hanging up his robe and marking the end of his 36-year judicial career. He is one of 18 trial and appellate judges leaving the bench this year, and one of only two trial judges in the state who are now finding their names attached to a courthouse or legal services building.
County commissioners in October passed a resolution honoring the longtime judge by dedicating the Montgomery County Court Services Building at 307 Binford St. in Crawfordsville in his honor. The historic and newly renovated building that houses the probation department, some classrooms, and the soon-to-be started drug court offices will be named the Thomas K. Milligan Justice Center.
The resolution honoring him says the Waveland native has served county residents “honorably and well, while maintaining the highest standards of fairness and impartiality in the administration of justice for 36 years… (and) has demonstrated through the administration of his Court that he is one of the preeminent trial judges in the State of Indiana.” It also points out he’s particularly known for “fair and just treatment for children and their families who are most in need or in harm’s way, and that he has dutifully followed the Gentleman's Rule of his alma mater, Wabash College.”
Admitted to practice in 1967 and first elected in November 1974, Judge Milligan has been on the bench longer than any other sitting judge except for Marion Superior Judge Gerald Zore – who was appointed just before Christmas 1974 and as a result beats out his colleague in Montgomery County by just a week.
Through the years, Judge Milligan has been an advocate for youth and has worked in close contact with the Youth Service Bureau in the training of CASA workers, Teen Court, and with the schools and out-of-school suspension program. He is a member of the Indiana Juvenile Judges Association and has also held leadership officer roles with the Indiana Judges Association and served as past president of the Montgomery County Bar Association.