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Community Matters, Law

The Nonpartisan Court Plan for Greene County

The Nonpartisan Court Plan has been around since the 1940's, when Missouri adopted the plan for the selection of Missouri Supreme Court and Appeals Court Judges. It was later adopted in the seventies by St. Louis, Clay and Platte Counties. 

If the Nonpartisan Court Plan passes in Greene County, judges would be appointed by a county judicial commission that would consist of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals district, two lawyers elected by the Bar Association and two citizens.  When a seat on the bench becomes available lawyers would apply to the commission, the commission would narrow the field by reviewing the applications and interviewing the candidates.  The commission would then submit three potential candidates to the  Governor to be interviewed.  The Governor would then have 60 days to fill the vacancy.  If a decision is not made in 60 days the decision will revert back to the judicial commission and they will select one of the three candidates to fill the vacancy.

Currently when an interim judicial vacancy occurs it is filled by an appointment of the Governor.  This judge will serve until the next election when he or she will run in a standard partisan election for their judicial seat.

The Missouri Bar Association's publication "Voting for Missouri Judges"  addresses the current different processes in place for filling judicial openings and retaining judges. 

Many opinions surround the potential adoption of the Nonpartisan Court Plan for Greene County. Judge Michael Wolff explains the plan in a podcast from the Missouri Bar Association entitled "Separation of Powers" a Law in Your Life podcast

The Commission on Judicial Independence has created a report on the History of the Nonpartisan Court Plan that reviews the plans detailed history and influences on the states judicial system.

A candid discussion of the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan was held in 2004 by David C. Mason - Circuit Judge, 22nd Judicial Circuit, Anthony R. Behr - Behr, McCarter & Potter P.C. and Richard A. Gartner - The Gartner Law Firm.  They express differing viewpoints and their opinions of the positives and negatives of the plan.

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