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Public Service: Kelly C. Broniec

Associate Circuit Judge, Montgomery County

Kelly Broniec has always been ahead of the curve, and since 2006, she’s been at the head of the courtroom.

Broniec, an associate circuit judge in Montgomery County, got her start in trial law before she’d finished law school. In her final year in law school at the University of Missouri, Broniec became Rule 13-certified, which allowed her to try a case through her job at the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office. The case was a misdemeanor and the details long forgotten, but she got a conviction, and that set her on the path to where she is today.broniec-kelly

“I think probably, my favorite part of it is that every case is unique and different,” Broniec said. “As a judge in such a small, rural community, you do a little of everything, so that keeps it interesting.”

Broniec became interested in law while attending William Woods University as an undergraduate. A business-law class led her to pursue classes in the university’s legal studies department, which prepared students for paralegal careers. The next semester, she took a business class that required legal research and writing.

The professor, Belinda Bush, was a new law-school graduate herself and was clerking at the Missouri Supreme Court. Bush pulled her aside and told her: You need to go to law school.

“I said ‘Me?’ because I had not even considered it at that point,” Broniec said. “Belinda Bush was my first big cheerleader because she encouraged me to go to law school. I don’t think I ever would have considered it if she hadn’t encouraged me to do that.”

As a judge and attorney in a rural area, she’s used to handling all types of cases — family law, criminal, civil and more. Broniec arrived in Montgomery County and worked as an assistant prosecutor before serving as the county’s elected prosecutor for seven years. When long-time mentor Roy Richter left the Montgomery County bench for the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District, she saw an opening and decided to go for it.

Becoming a judge had been a long-term goal, but it was one she expected would be several years down the road. She attributes her success to her ability to relate to all aspects of a case.

“I could always see both sides of a story,” Broniec said. “As a judge you can’t be biased, and you can’t have a preference for one side or another. You have to listen to both sides, and I could always listen to both sides of an argument.”

In addition to working in her own courtroom, Broniec is active in shaping judicial policy and protocol through several organizations. She is past president of the Missouri Association of Probate and Associate Circuit Judges, and she has served on the statewide committees to revise the Criminal Bench Book and the Traffic Court Bench Guide, both of which are used by judges throughout Missouri. Broniec also serves on numerous committees and panels, including the Trial Judge Education Committee, under the direction of the Missouri Supreme Court, and the committee’s Judicial College.

In her community, Broniec holds numerous leadership positions with the Kiwanis Club, as well as membership in the Rotary Club and Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. In her free time, Broniec spends time with her daughters and following women’s college basketball.