Judge Robin Ransom admits she didn’t like law school.
“The people were nice. But I thought, ‘I’m not doing this for a living,’” she chuckled.
Yet today the St. Louis native sits on the state’s appellate court, and she’s learned to love the law.
“You walk into the courtroom, and you realize this isn’t Perry Mason. This isn’t Matlock. This is real,” she said. “I’m really happy I didn’t like law school. I’m happy I didn’t want to be a lawyer because I really have a greater appreciation for it now. Every day, there is something for me that I find that I like about it. I’m not burned out at all. I really enjoy my career.”
That career began for Ransom as a St. Louis County public defender in 1992. She became a prosecutor three years later before taking a position with the legal department of the county’s family court juvenile division.
After that, she moved to the 22nd Circuit, where she would become a family court commissioner before being appointed to a circuit judgeship. This year, she became presiding judge by unanimous vote of her colleagues — but she didn’t have long to enjoy the honor because Gov. Mike Parson quickly named her to her present role on the appellate court.
“It really is different,” she said. “As a circuit judge, you see people in the halls. You see other judges everywhere. You have litigants coming in and out of the courtroom. The appellate court doesn’t operate that way. I’m in my office reading from the time I get there until the time I leave.”
But she said she enjoys the quiet, deliberative approach.
“The appellate court is very serene and peaceful, which works with my temperament,” Ransom said. “I can work in chaos. I always tell people that I’m a very disorganized, organized person. But I do like the fact that I can come in with all of my cases and read and research all day long pretty much without interruption and really get a handle on so many different areas that I would never have touched being a circuit judge.”
Ransom’s view of her job is a simple one. She follows the law wherever it might lead.
“I’m not here to try and bend it or pull it, twist it, recreate it,” said the University of Missouri School of Law graduate. “We’re here to read it and interpret it as it stands. I’m not an activist, so I don’t try and add to it or pull it my way.”
Despite everything that she has on her plate, she still has time for involvement in the community. Among her various activities, she tutors children as part of a literacy program for a local church.
Still, there is an irony. For someone with so distinguished a resume and such a desire to stay organized, Ransom admits none of it was by design.
“I plan everything,” she said. “But what I never planned was my career.”