Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

How Judges Are Picked in Missouri

A judge has a tremendous impact on a personal injury jury trial. She or he can drastically alter the odds of winning a case. As personal injury lawyers in Missouri, we litigate and try a lot of personal injury cases. We, therefore, try our best to understand who the judge is in our cases and how she or he got there.

In Missouri, trial judges are picked two different ways:

  • In some courts, judges are elected.
  • In other courts, judges are picked by a non-partisan commission on the basis of the judge’s qualifications.

Missouri’s Nonpartisan Court Plan
Citizens of some counties in Missouri have voted to adopt Missouri’s Nonpartisan Court Plan. This method of selecting judges starts with a commission of appointed and elected individuals.

There are:

  • Two non-lawyer positions that are appointed by the governor
  • Two lawyer positions that are elected by fellow lawyers from the court circuit, and the chief judge of the appellate circuit in which the circuit court is located.

When a judicial vacancy opens up, anyone with a Missouri law license living in the circuit can apply. The commission selects three candidates and sends the list to the governor, who then chooses the person to fill the vacancy.

St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Jackson County, Platte County, Clay County, and Greene County are the only circuit courts in Missouri that have adopted the Nonpartisan Court Plan.

General Election
The remaining counties in Missouri pick their judges through a general election. Just like any other elected official, voters from the circuit pick the judge they want on a ballot at election time. These elections are partisan and political, and can bring with them all the baggage that comes with partisan elections.

Typically, these elections are not too fraught with partisanship, but it can rear its ugly head from time to time. Rather than picking the judge with the best qualifications, sometimes these elections result in judges who are simply more popular or like-minded politically to their constituents. This can cause problems if the judge in your case does not share the same political views as you do.

Understand the Judge in Your Case
Whether the judge in your personal injury case was appointed through the Nonpartisan Court Plan or elected by a popular vote, it's important to know who she or he is.

Judge’s are the gate-keepers of the evidence and decide what the jury hears during your trial. Because of this, who your trial judge is can make a big difference on the value of your case and the likelihood of you winning. We do our best to familiarize ourselves with all the judges in Missouri, and try our best to meet as many as we can in person. This way, we can advise our clients on what effect their judge may have on their case.

Contact Us to Learn More

Think you may have a personal injury case? We stand ready to assist and offer a free initial consult. Call us at 816-867-8611 to learn more.