The Appellate Judicial Commission has selected Michael E. Gardner, Jeffery T. McPherson and Michael W. Noble as nominees for a vacancy on the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District.
The three nominees were among 19 lawyers and judges who applied for the position last held by Judge Lawrence E. Mooney, who retired in September.
Gardner is the presiding judge of the 32nd Circuit. He was a finalist last year for an Eastern District vacancy that ultimately went to Judge Robin Ransom. He earned his law degree, cum laude, in 2004, from the University of Missouri. He then clerked for Missouri Supreme Court Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr., who is now on the federal bench.
If selected, Gardner would be the only Eastern District judge from the southern portion of the district’s 25-county territory. According to demographic information provided by the commission, eight of the 19 applicants were from outside the St. Louis area.
McPherson is a partner in the appellate practice group at Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, in 1994 from Saint Louis University. According to his firm biography, he has argued approximately 200 appeals in his career, including more than 30 in the Missouri Supreme Court, where he once served as a law clerk to Judge Ann Covington.
McPherson was one of 10 applicants who came from the private sector. If selected, he would be one of four judges to have joined the 14-member appellate court directly from private practice, and the only one to come from a large law firm.
Noble is a circuit judge in the St. Louis Circuit Court. He earned his law degree in 2004 from Saint Louis University. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he served as a Field artillery officer. He worked as a patent attorney at Armstrong Teasdale and an assistant public defender before becoming the St. Louis circuit’s drug court commissioner in 2007.
Gov. Jay Nixon named Noble as an associate judge in 2013 and elevated him to the circuit bench in 2015. If selected, Noble would be one of six former St. Louis trial judges on the Eastern District. He would also be one of three African-American judges on the court. The commission said he was one of two minorities who applied.
Gov. Mike Parson has 60 days to appoint one of the three.
The commission said all three were chosen unanimously after more than six hours of public interviews, two hours of deliberations and seven rounds of balloting on Jan. 17.