CLAYTON— After interviewing 29 associate circuit judge candidates, the 21st Circuit Judicial Commission has given three names to Gov. Eric Greitens for consideration to fill retiring Judge Dennis Smith’s seat on the St. Louis County bench.

Diane Monahan, John Newsham and Nicole Zellweger are the chosen three up for the position. They were nominated by 21st Circuit Judicial Commission members Judge James M. Dowd, Tiffany Mapp Franklin, William  Grant, Thomas K. Reedy and Jeffrey D. Sigmund.

“The commission is confident any of these individuals is capable of serving well and honorably if selected by the governor,”  a Missouri Courts press release stated.

Monahan, a 1992 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville alum and a 1997 Saint Louis University School of Law graduate, is the present St. Louis County Family Court commissioner, which requires an even temperament and decisive thoughtful application of the law, according to a public questionnaire that she filled out.

“I deal with mental illness, substance abuse and poverty, on a daily basis," Monahan said, adding she oversees delinquency and abuse matters, as well as domestic and guardianship files. "I carry a heavy caseload, and run my dockets efficiently. I know my cases, and I give everyone a voice and the chance to be heard.”

Newsham graduated from Saint Louis University in 1981 and received his juris doctorate from Saint Lewis School of Law in 1984. He is an attorney at Dill, Bamvakais and Newsham PC, who was recognized for his outstanding leadership and dedication to MoBarCLE.

"Over the past two decades, John F. Newsham has made substantial contributions to the continuing legal education of Missouri's attorneys,” Newsham’s public questionaire stated. “He is a consummate volunteer who never fails to assist The Missouri Bar when asked, generously and frequently offering his time to present at CLE programs.”

Zellweger, a 2000 University of Georgia alum and a 2004 Washington University School of Law graduate, is an attorney at Stinson Leonard Street LLP, who in addition to her business litigation and arbitration experience also handles transactional and corporate work, and trust and estate areas, according to her public questionnaire.

“Additionally, I have handled many real and personal property tax appeals in St. Louis County, St. Charles County and the City of St. Louis at both the County level (Board of Equalization) and before the State Tax Commission," Zellweger said. “At all times, I represented the property owner in these contested matters. I have also handled several discrimination claims before the EEOC and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.”

There are 46 judicial circuits in Missouri and there is a court in every county, according to the Missouri Courts website.

“Missouri circuit courts are courts of original civil and criminal jurisdiction,” the Missouri Court website stated. “That is, cases usually begin in the circuit court, which is where trials may occur. Within the circuit court, there are various divisions, such as associate circuit, small claims, municipal, family, probate, criminal and juvenile.

Each nominee for Smith's seat on the bench received four votes by members of the commission. 

“The commission believes these candidates, chosen from a field of extremely qualified individuals, possess those qualities essential to the fair and efficient administration of justice,” a Missouri Court press release stated. 

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