Gov. Jay Nixon chose a Lee’s Summit solo attorney over two practicing judges to sit on the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District.
Nixon on Tuesday appointed Cindy Reams Martin to the appellate court in Kansas City.
She is set to fill the vacancy of Joe Dandurand, who left to work for Attorney General Chris Koster.
“I am just humbled beyond words, frankly,” Martin said in an interview. “I have strived to serve on the Court of Appeals for some time … not because I think I’m special but because of what a wonderful opportunity it will be.”
This will be Martin’s first judicial post, but she’s been selecting Jackson County judges for five years as a member of the16th Circuit Judicial Commission.
She complimented the two other finalists for the appellate spot, Cass County Circuit Judge Jacqueline Cook and Platte County Associate Circuit Judge Gary Witt – a selection she said “speaks to the quality of the (Nonpartisan Court) plan and how the plan works.”
Martin has been an attorney for 25 years and started her own practice in Lee’s Summit in 2000. She has done jury trials and state and federal appellate work. Her practice has focused on business and commercial litigation as well as transactions and projects.
“Cynthia Martin has demonstrated her legal acumen time and again before both the trial and appellate courts, and she has been publicly and prominently recognized by her peers as being a top lawyer in the Kansas City area,” Nixon said in a statement. “She brings great skills to the bench, and I am confident she will be a most able jurist in serving the people of Missouri on this Court.”
Martin graduated as valedictorian from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1984.
She received The Missouri Bar’s President’s Award and the UMKC Law Alumni Association Practitioner of the Year Award in 2005.
She previously served as president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation.
“Appellate court really calls for somebody of great intellect, and she certainly has that,” said current KCMBA president Rebbecca Lake Wood. “She will bring that together with her energy and motivation to pursue justice.”
A search of Missouri Ethics Commission reports covering statewide and legislative candidates dating back more than five years showed Martin has made a few campaign contributions.
Most recently, she donated $500 in October 2008 to Yates 2010. That’s the committee for the state Senate campaign of Rep. Brian Yates, R-Lee’s Summit. Martin also gave Democrat Claire McCaskill $1,000 in 2003 and $225 in 2004 toward her unsuccessful run for governor. McCaskill is now a U.S. senator.
Martin’s appointment still leaves one vacancy on the court. Harold Lowenstein retired from the bench and in September went to work for Armstrong Teasdale in Kansas City. The Appellate Judicial Commission hasn’t formally opened the position and isn’t yet taking applications. Judicial vacancies remain in the Southern and Eastern districts.
Martin has 30 days from her commission to take the oath of office.
She said she plans on using that time to wrap up or refer pending cases at her private practice.
-Staff Reporter Kelly Wiese contributed to this report.