For the second election cycle in a row, a group that evaluates judges under the Nonpartisan Court Plan has indicated that all of them deserve to keep their seats.
The Missouri Judicial Performance Review Committee on Sept. 27 released the results of its evaluations of 54 judges who will stand for retention on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Larry Tucker, a retired partner at Armstrong Teasdale and chair of the review committee, said during a video press conference that the findings show Missouri has “outstanding judges at every level.”
This year’s review covers two Supreme Court judges, 10 Court of Appeals judges, 21 circuit court judges and 21 associate circuit court judges from Clay, Greene, Jackson, Platte and St. Louis counties and the city of St. Louis. The bar said the initial number of judges to be evaluated was 56, but two judges announced their retirement in recent months
The 21-member review committee — an independent body that is funded and publicized by The Missouri Bar — doesn’t explicitly recommend whether voters should retain judges or not. Instead, committee members vote on whether the judges meet judicial standards, based on surveys of lawyers who appeared before them, as well as juror surveys and samples of their writing.
“Now, more so than ever before, Missouri voters have more objective information to help them cast their vote when it comes to judges up for retention,” Tucker said. “The Judicial Performance Review Committee’s findings offer an alternative to negative political ads, spurred by partisan politics and campaign money.”
This year, all of the judges were held to have met those standards. The committee reached a similar conclusion in 2020 using the same methodology. The bar has played a role in evaluating nonpartisan judges since 1948, though the process has changed over the decades.
In recent years, the committee has stopped explicitly recommending whether a judge be retained. It also now removes identifying information about the judges to prevent their name, race, gender or location from influencing the evaluation, and it no longer releases vote counts that would show if any committee members offered a dissent.
Under the Court Plan, the governor chooses judicial appointees from panels of three candidates selected by commissions composed of lawyers, non-lawyers and judges. The appointees must periodically go before voters, who decide if they should remain in office or not. Since the plan was added to the Missouri Constitution in 1940, just four judges have lost retention votes.
The committee’s ratings are available at www.yourmissourijudges.org.
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