MO Statehouse
5:48 pm
Wed February 9, 2011

Price defends Missouri Plan in State of the Judiciary Address

The Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court urged lawmakers to leave the state's non-partisan court plan alone during his State of the Judiciary Address today at the State Capitol.

Chief Justice William Ray Price, Jr., spent more than half of his address defending the Missouri Plan.

Under the plan, special panels select nominees for judicial vacancies for the Supreme Court, Appeals courts, and circuit courts in Jackson, Clay, Platte, Greene and St. Louis counties, and the city of St. Louis.  The governor then selects from among the nominees.

"Any proposed change to the Missouri Plan should be considered only with the greatest care and caution," Price said.  "I'm afraid that it is more likely that any change will bring more harm than good."

Critics of the non-partisan court plan say attorneys have too much say in choosing nominees, and some Republican lawmakers in recent years have sponsored resolutions that would either tweak the Missouri Plan or scrap it altogether.

So far, only one resolution has been filed this year that would give the governor more say in judicial appointments.

Price also urged lawmakers to do their part to curb overpopulation in Missouri's prison system.  He said that the state should provide more funding for drug courts, DWI courts and similar programs.

"I am not advocating that we close prisons (or) reduce prison populations just to save money," Price said.  "What I am saying is that we need to do a better job teaching non-violent offenders the right lessons."

The State of the Judiciary Address was originally scheduled on February 1st, but was rescheduled due to last week's massive winter storm that struck Jefferson City and much of Missouri.

Missouri State of the Judiciary Address 2011- Full Text