Milton Wharton earned his law degree from DePaul University in 1975 and was appointed an associate judge in St. Clair County Circuit Court in 1976. In 1988, he was elected a circuit judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit of Illinois. Judge Wharton has been on the bench for more than 33 years and could have retired several years ago, but continues to handle a full caseload at no pay. Milton currently serves as the president of the St. Clair County Bar Association and has been widely recognized for his community service, with awards including the Kimmel Community Service Award, the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award, Whitney E. Young, Jr. Service Award of the Boy Scouts of America, and Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice from the late Pope John Paul II. Judge Wharton was named a "Legend in the Legal Community" by the St. Louis Argus Newspaper.
He served as a member of the SIUE Foundation Board of Directors, is a past-president of the SIUE Alumni Association Board of Directors, was named the SIUE Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 1998, and is a Lifetime member of the SIUE Alumni Association. He is also a member of the 2010 SIUE Alumni Hall of Fame.