St. Louis Public Radio News
5:47 am
Wed April 8, 2009

Mo. House passes changes to judge selections

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri House has passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would give the governor more say in who serves on the State Supreme Court and lower courts.

The resolution would allow the governor to reject an entire slate of nominees given him by the Appellate Judicial Commission, but he would have to choose a judge from the second slate, or else the commission would make the pick.

Other changes to the system known as the Missouri Plan would include adding an additional non-lawyer to the commission, and commission members would also need Senate confirmation. Some commission functions would also be open to the public.

State Representative Stanley Cox (R, Sedalia) sponsored the resolution.

"This is tweaking the plan to make it better, and make it more actually in line with most states, bring it sort of in the middle ground, where people, through their elected officials, can actually affect the process...right now, it's dominated by lawyers and this will change it," Cox said.

State Representative John Burnett (D, Kansas City) opposed the resolution.

"It permits the legislature and the politicians to choose judges, more than the merit selection process that we now have," Burnett said.

The resolution now goes to the Missouri Senate. If it passes there, it could either be placed on the November 2010 ballot or slated for a special election.