The Appellate Judicial Commission has nominated Virginia W. Lay, Rebeca M. Navarro-McKelvey and Susan M. Petersen as finalists for an opening on the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District.
The vacancy, announced Nov. 6, exists due to Judge Kelly C. Broniec’s recent appointment to the Missouri Supreme Court. Parson has 60 days to select one of the three for the position.
The commission said it chose the three nominees unanimously after three hours of public interviews with 22 applicants, an hour and a half of deliberations and nine rounds of balloting.
Lay is a circuit judge in St. Louis County. Parson previously named her as an associate circuit judge in 2019 and elevated her to the circuit bench in 2021. She earned her law degree in 1993 from Washington University in St. Louis.
Navarro-McKelvey is a circuit judge in St. Charles County. She was elected to the bench as a Republican in 2020 and previously served as a prosecutor in St. Charles County and the city of St. Louis. She earned her law degree in 2000 from the University of Missouri.
Peterson is an attorney with The Law Office of Susan M. Peterson in St. Charles and legal counsel for the Eastern Missouri Coalition of Police, Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 15. She earned her law degree in 1998 from Saint Louis University.
If selected, Lay and Navarro-McKelvey would be one of eight judges on the Eastern District to have previously served as a trial judge. Lay would be one of five to have served in the city of St. Louis or St. Louis County, both of which are under the Nonpartisan Court Plan. Navarro-McKelvey would be one of four to come from an elected circuit.
If Peterson is chosen, she would be one of four on the Eastern District to have joined the court directly from private practice.
No matter who is chosen, the 14-member appellate court will comprise four women and 10 men.