A lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan and longtime season ticket holder, Glenn Norton turns to a baseball analogy to describe working in arbitration and mediation and as a special master following nearly 20 years as a judge — first in Ralls County and then on the Missouri Court of Appeals’ Eastern District, including a term as chief judge.
“It lets me continue to be a ‘judge,’ quote unquote, and call balls and strikes,” said Norton, who joined the Clayton firm of Blitz, Bardgett and Deutsch in 2015.
Those special master duties include a pair of high-profile legal disputes: the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder cases and the Roundup weed killer lawsuit settlements. Norton also recently completed a one-year term as president of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Now 61, Norton grew up on a Macon County farm that he and his two brothers still own. Though he “loved the farm, I didn’t want to make my career at the whims of the market, or the weather,” Norton said.
So, he instead headed to Westminster College in Fulton, graduating in 1982 with an English degree, and then on to the University of Missouri School of Law, where Norton represented the school at the national mock trial competition (Family lawyer Joe Ellis of Macon, later a judge on the state Court of Appeals, Western District, was an early and familiar role model).
Norton then practiced at the firm of Briscoe, Norton and Mobley in New London, Missouri.
“John Briscoe is not only one of the finest lawyers I have ever known, he is like a brother to me,” Norton said. That was followed by six years on the bench in Ralls County.
The retired judge credits his times working with farmers, rural banks, the local hospital, small business owners and just about “anybody who came in the door” as an invaluable legal and business education, not to mention a daily chance to sharpen life skills.
“When you’re a small-town lawyer, everybody knows everybody,” he said. “You’re not just a lawyer, you’re the client’s confidant.”
In 2001, Norton joined the administration of new Gov. Bob Holden as chief legal counsel, a role he spent one year in before his appointment to the Court of Appeals.
When he stepped down from the bench at 55, Norton described yearning for a “new adventure.” Six years later, he doesn’t look back.
“My whole career has been taking risks, and doing things I hoped would work,” said Norton, a father of four, grandfather of seven and husband of nearly 20 years to Judge Colleen Dolan, a former St. Louis Circuit Court jurist who was appointed to the appellate court’s Eastern District in 2016, after Norton stepped down. “And leaving the bench early wasn’t any different.”
A late arrival to pro hockey fandom, Norton became a St. Louis Blues season ticket holder just before the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2019. His civic service includes the board of directors of Action for Autism, which he chairs; and the executive committee of the Howard Park School for developmentally challenged children.