JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Gov. Matt Blunt appointed Zel Fischer, an associate circuit judge in Atchison County, to the Missouri Supreme Court. Fischer, 45, replaces Stephen Limbaugh, who accepted a federal judgeship.
Fischer received his law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1998, worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Judge Andrew Jackson Higgins and had a private practice from 1989-2006, when he was elected to the court.
Blunt’s decision was not without controversy. The other two finalists – Lisa White Hardwick and Ronald Hollinger, both Kansas City Appeals judges – had more experience, but had Democratic ties.
Some of Blunt’s fellow Republicans urged him to dump the entire slate of nominees, though the state’s constitution doesn’t give Blunt that authority. According to Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan, a screening commission chooses three finalists for appellate judgeships and the governor must pick one.