The Munsterman Award recognizes states, local courts, organizations or individuals that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations and practices.
Milligan, who is serving his first term as circuit clerk, was nominated for his jury notification system, which 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 email 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."