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Western District Court of Appeals resignations now official

The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District on Wednesday formally announced the resignations of three of its judges.

Judges Paul Spinden and Ron Holliger leave the court this week, and Judge Joseph Dandurand will leave on March 2, the state’s Appellate Judicial Commission said in a press release.

Spinden’s resignation, first noted in a Dec. 5 article, was publicly acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday. According to the press release, he will be joining the faculty of Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va. His last official day is Friday, although court staff said he has already left for Virgina.

Holliger’s and Dandurand’s departures had been previously announced, as they will be joining the staff of new Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Holliger will serve as his general counsel, while Dandurand will be deputy attorney general.

The resignations will require some dockets to be shuffled at the appellate court, which added three new members in late 2007. Among them was Dandurand, who will have served on the court only about 15 months when he leaves.

“We’ll be able to adjust to the absences of our colleagues,” Western District Chief Judge Thomas Newton said Wednesday. “Of course, we’ll miss them greatly.”

While the resignations might be a headache for the court, they create an opportunity for Gov. Jay Nixon, who took office Monday, to have an immediate and major impact on the appellate courts. Also leaving the Western District this year will be Judge Hal Lowenstein, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in August. In addition, Judge Booker Shaw announced his retirement from the court’s Eastern District last week.

Under the state’s Nonpartisan Court Plan, a state commission will give the governor three qualified applicants, of which the governor chooses one. The Appellate Judicial Commission is now accepting applications for the Western District panels.

A single form, available on the court’s Web site at, will serve as an application for all three openings. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13.

The commission will conduct a single set of interviews of all applicants for the three vacancies on March 2-3 and announce a panel to fill Holliger’s vacancy shortly after. Interviews will be held at the appellate courthouse in Kansas City.

The same pool of applicants will be used to select panels to replace Spinden and Dandurand. The commission said it won’t know when the second and third panels will be announced until Nixon makes his first choice.