JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri House gave preliminary approval to a state constitutional amendment that would reduce the power of sitting judges and lawyers in picking new judges while increasing the say of the legislature and the governor, thereby increasing political considerations in judicial nominations.
Judges for the Missouri Supreme Court, three appeals courts and trial courts in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas are chosen by nominating committees composed of a judge, lawyers chosen by the Missouri Bar and citizens picked by the governor. The committee submits three names to the governor, who chooses the judge.
The proposed amendment would require the nominating committees to be confirmed by the Senate, remove judges from the committees, increase the number of non-lawyer members and would increase the number of nominees given to the governor to five.
Trial judges outside of St. Louis and Kansas City are elected in partisan contests.
The amendment was approved 80-63, but needs another House vote before moving to the Senate. Legislation needs 82 votes to clear the House.