Phillip Sawyer announced his candidacy for Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney on Friday morning in a packed courtroom.
Attending the event was his wife Sara and numerous law enforcement personnel and other supporters.
The assistant prosecutor will officially file for the office on the Republican ticket by the Feb. 25 deadline. Currently, there are three vying for the position in the primary.
“I started law school with two very clear intentions – number one, I knew when I left law school, I would be a criminal litigator with aspirations to be a prosecuting attorney. Number two, I knew that no matter what, I was going to live in this community,” Sawyer said. “Fortunately, based on some great blessings and some great opportunities, and a whole lot of hard work, that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Sawyer handled indigent criminal defense cases upon graduation from law school. After nearly three years in the public defender’s office, Sawyer entered private practice.
He opened his office with one, clear vision — to revolve around as much criminal litigation as possible and to locate his office in Pettis County. His mission was successful.
“We ran a high-volume criminal practice that specialized in litigation with serious felony and misdemeanor cases,” Sawyer noted, adding that he has served as a special prosecutor for Pettis County on a number of occasions. He also has served as a public defender for the State.
Two years ago, he accepted the position of assistant prosecutor for Pettis County, serving under Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Mittelhauser, who was in attendance at 20-minute speech. Mittlehauser announced his intentions to run for Division 6 Associate Judge on Jan. 24 after serving 28 years as prosecuting attorney.
Mittelhauser allowed Sawyer to retain his trial attorney practice while serving as assistant prosecutor. “Jeff has complied and kept his word,” Sawyer said.
“I’ve had many great experiences throughout my career, but I can honestly say that the last two years serving as assistant prosecutor in this county has been the most rewarding,” Sawyer stated.
He credited the cooperation of the Missouri Highway Patrol, Pettis County Sheriff’s office, the Sedalia Police Department’s STING Unit and victim advocates in the success of the prosecutor’s office over the past two years. “I’ve had remarkable dealings with every branch of law enforcement,” Sawyer said.
“I’ve tried to make a difference, something that’s beyond what simply would be expected of the prosecuting attorney who serves in an assistant role,” he noted.
Sawyer is a native of Henry County, growing up in Windsor. “I graduated from Windsor High School. Ironically, I lived on the Pettis County side of Windsor from about third grade on,” Sawyer told the Weekly Observer. “My mom grew up working for an attorney; she was the secretary for the prosecuting attorney for Henry County for his private office.”
Criminal law was always Sawyer’s main interest. He graduated from Missouri Valley College where he also played basketball. He earned his law degree at UMKC, graduating in 2001.
“I’ve been in Pettis County ever since, involved in my career,” he said.
“This is something I’ve been preparing for this my entire career; it’s something that I’m ready for and is very important to me. And it’s important for the community to know that they have an option for someone who has real trial experience,” he concluded.