St. Louis Public Radio News
11:30 am
Tue June 25, 2002

Ronnie White to become first black chief justice

Jefferson City, MO – A judge who opposed the nomination of
John Ashcroft for US attorney general is poised to become the first black chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.

Ronnie White takes over as head of the seven-member court on Tuesday. He says his top priority is to encourage diversity within the state court system.

White was appointed the first black member of the Supreme Court in 1995. And he likely wouldn't have become chief justice had it not been for Ashcroft, who led opposition that turned back White's
nomination for the federal bench in 1999.

White says his other priorities as chief justice include expanding the non-partisan judicial plan. He also wants to continue
implementing a long-running court computerization program.