Missouri chief justice will testify before lawmakers
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri's chief justice has agreed to testify before a legislative committee about how a judicial commission came up with a slate of candidates to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith was invited along with the other five members of the Appellate Judicial Commission to testify Sept. 11 before the Senate Rules, Joint Rules and Ethics Committee.
Stith, who is chairman of the commission, said she would testify on behalf of the others.
Committee chairman Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, wants to hear about the process the panel used to recently submit three candidates to Gov. Matt Blunt to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Shields also wants to hear testimony on why the judicial nominating commission believes it is exempt from the Sunshine Law generally requiring open meetings and records.
The commission notes that the constitution says it is to be governed by Supreme Court rules. Those rules require the identity of candidates for judgeships to be kept secret, except for the three finalists. The rules also mandate that the commission vote by secret ballot and that matters discussed at commission meetings be kept confidential.
Blunt still has several more weeks to either appoint someone to the Supreme Court or allow the judicial commission to fill the vacancy with one of the three finalists it selected earlier.