A 26-year veteran of Missouri’s 22nd Judicial Circuit has been tapped by the state’s
Supreme Court to temporarily replace suspended Judge Chris Kunza
Mennemeyer of the 45th Circuit Court.
Starting on Feb. 1, Judge Thomas
Frawley will become the presiding judge for the 45th Circuit Court after Mennemeyer
was removed from the bench following allegations of arbitrarily delaying
defendants’ cases for months and attempting to intimidate public defenders she
was feuding with.
“I’m honored by the decision of (Supreme
Court) Justice Breckenridge to appoint me,” Frawley told the St. Louis Record.
Fawley graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York,
and then went on to receive his law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law. Frawley, who spent nearly 20 years in private practice, has served in the
22nd Circuit Court since 1991.
The judge recalled his humble beginnings.
“After law school,
I worked at a firm with three men,” Frawley said. “My office consisted of a
copy machine and a coffee maker.”
While he may have wondered how long such a
state of operations would last back then, he is now gearing up to assume more responsibilities
as a noted circuit court judge.
“I’m taking the six months vacancy from Judge
Mennemeyer who was suspended and was the presiding judge for the (45th) Circuit,” Frawley said. “My obligation, my job is to run the circuit as
well as to do the cases that Judge Mennemeyer would have heard, criminal,
domestic or whatever they may be.”
Over his career, Frawley has earned a reputation as
a child protection advocate and has accumulated many awards. His fellow justices have consistently awarded him high
“My wife and I were foster parents for quite a while, and
we had a bunch of foster kids come through the house,” Frawley said. “While
I was on a juvenile court from 2000 to 2005, we took on a project that was new
to the state that required more frequent hearings with the kids, and we were
told that a metropolitan circuit wouldn’t be able to do it. Well, that was really all that we needed
to hear, to be told that we couldn’t do it.”
Now the program runs statewide and has received the
continued support of other judges and child advocates. While Frawley noted
that it was not his team alone that carried the program across municipal lines,
he believes his was the first metropolitan circuit to advocate for it.
Frawley was quick to note that his success
was not the sole result of his individual effort. Saying he was “most proud of
the people I work with,” Frawley specifically thanked his personal staff, including his secretary and his clerks, as well as former Missouri Speaker of the
House Catherine Hanaway, for their help in improving the lives of Missourians
and that of their children.