Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell to the state Supreme Court.
Powell, a Springfield native and Mizzou law grad, will fill a seat on the seven-member court that has been vacant since Judge Richard Teitelman died in November.
At age 46, he will be the youngest member of the Missouri Supreme Court.
Kansas City lawyers who dealt with Powell, both when he was a prosecutor and a judge, applauded his selection.
Charles Atwell, a former Jackson County judge now in private practice, said Powell “has a great temperement and he’s really a hard worker.”
“He’s even-handed, right down the middle,” Atwell said. “I think he’s a good guy and I like him a lot.”
Anthony Cardarella, a lawyer with the Missouri Public Defender’s office who faced off against Powell when Powell was a Platte County prosecutor, said he was “extremely fair and capable and could be trusted.”
“And I don’t say that lightly,” he said. “It takes a lot for me to say that about a prosecutor.”
In a statement, Greitens said, “In his years on the bench, Judge Brent Powell has established himself as an outstanding jurist.He has received high marks for being humble, fair-minded, and of the highest integrity. I am confident Judge Powell will be committed to strengthening and improving our court system and guarding the rule of law as a judge on our state’s highest court.”
Powell was named to the Jackson County bench by former Republican Governor Matt Blunt and has been a judge since February 2008. He is considered a moderate Republican.
A graduate of William Jewell College in Liberty, he received his law degree in 1996 from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he served on the law review.
After law school, he was briefly in private practice with Lathrop & Gage in Kansas City before becoming an assistant prosecutor in Platte County for four years. He later served as an assistant federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City for seven years.
Powell was one of three candidates out of a field of 31 who were selected by the Appellate Judicial Commission, a seven-member body that submits three finalists to the governor for consideration.
The other two finalists were Lisa Hardwick, a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City who applied for the last vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2012, and Benjamin Lipman, an attorney with Lewis Rice in St. Louis.
Dan Margolies is KCUR’s health editor. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.