Missouri judicial selection process comes under fire

By Laura Halleman | Apr 12, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Senate leader Ron Richard (R-Joplin) wants to repeal the process for selecting justices to the state’s Supreme Court.

The Appellate Judicial Commission is responsible for choosing three candidates to put forth to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, who then selects one of the three to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. It is made up of seven members and is overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. 

“The people of Missouri adopted a system of judicial merit selection based on checks and balances, which no one person, party or political boss controls," Dana Tippin Cutler, president of the Missouri Bar, told the St. Louis Record. "Nonpartisan commissions of elected and appointed members interview applicants and nominate three finalists based on merit, and the governor appoints one to the bench, with Missourians having the final say at the ballot box. This process provides the people of Missouri with the qualified judges they deserve in the least political way."

The names of three attorneys have recently been submitted to the governor by the Appellate Judicial Commission to fill an open seat. Greitens has 60 days to make a decision. 

Attorneys Lisa Hardwick, Benjamin Lipman and W. Brent Powell were selected by the commission.

Lipman is an attorney with the Lewis Rice law firm in St. Louis, Powell is a circuit court judge in Jackson County and Hardwick is a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Richard told Missourinet that the three choices are not conservative enough.

“We may have one of that caliber, but there’s no reason that we shouldn’t have three to pick a strong conservative for the court," he said. "That’s my view."

He also said the current court doesn't align with public expectations.

Both the state House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. Richard told Missourinet that he would work with others in his party to see whether there is consensus in repealing the system.

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Missouri Bar Missouri House of Representatives Missouri State Senate Missouri Supreme Court

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