Missouri Judges: The Retention & Election of Missouri’s Judges, Statewide & Local.

Missouri State Supreme Court
(Three Judges up for statewide retention votes)

Court of Appeals Judges
(Seven total Judges from Missouri’s three appellate districts facing retention votes.)

Local Circuit Courts
(107 Circuit Judges throughout Missouri’s 45 local circuit courts, some to face retention votes, others wanting to be publicly elected.)

NOTE: General election retention votes apply to the state’s non-partisan court plan (appointed by the governor and later retained by citizen vote). All other judges are elected just like any public service office.

Missouri Non-Partisan Judge Retention Votes
2006 General Election Ballot

There are three State Supreme Court Judges facing a statewide “retention” vote November 7, 2006. The seven Appellate Judges only appear on the ballot in their respective districts. The nature of the judicial system in Missouri shrouds judges from effective performance review by voters. In the absence of high-profile cases, the best barometer of a judge’s pro-life stance may be their appointment. Listed below are the pro-life or pro-abortion positions of those Governors who appointed these Judges.

View this information in a chart

Missouri State Supreme Court
William Ray Price; appointed by John Ashcroft; pro-life
Mary Rhodes Russell; appointed by Bob Holden; pro-abortion
Stephen Limbaugh, Jr.; appointed by John Ashcroft; pro-life

Eastern District Appellate Court
Kenneth M. Romines; appointed by Matt Blunt; pro-life
Nannette A. Baker; appointed by Bob Holden; pro-abortion

Southern District Appellate Court
Phillip R. Garrison; Appointed by John Ashcroft; pro-life
Jeffery W. Bates; appointed by Bob Holden; pro-abortion

Western District Appellate Court
Joseph M. Ellis; appointed by Mel Carnahan; pro-abortion
James M. Smart; appointed by John Ashcroft; pro-life
Harold Lowenstein; appointed by Christopher Bond; pro-life

Not sure which district you are in? Please refer to the following map:

Appellate Judge Information

Seven out of the thirty-two Judges of the Missouri Court of Appeals are on the November 7th ballot for retention.

2 – Eastern District
2 – Southern District
3 – Western District

Democrat Governors Carnahan and Holden maintained a mandatory “pro-abortion” litmus test for all their judicial nominees over their twelve years of administrations! All of these judges need to be replaced. Any time three finalists are placed before the Governor for him to make a choice, there is a very, very high political probability that at least one will be pro-abortion. On the other hand, those finalists who would have been set before former governors may have provided slim pickin’s for pro-life administrations. John Ashcroft appointed judges based on judicial restraint and are generally okay but may not have turned out as good as he would have liked. Appointments Ashcroft made in his latter years administration were more seriously screened but he could only pick from the three candidates placed before him for each appointment. Appointments made going back to Governors Bond and Teasdale (yes they still face retention every twelve years and not all have retired yet) were picked before the contemporary focus on judicial activism and pro-life/pro-abortion debates had become major political issues. Today Governor Mat Blunt has had little opportunity to appoint Judges so far (although one retention this year is from his administration. Under the non-partisan court plan Gov. Blunt can only choose between the three finalists placed before him in making these appointments. Even though he has repeatedly stressed concern over “judicial activism” Gov. Blunt cannot place a pro-life judge on the court unless one survives the process to be submitted among the three finalist placed before him!


Unlike our confidence in recommending a “NO” vote on Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman, (2004 election; based on a high level of research and documentation) Missouri Family Network acknowledges that there has only been very limited information and research on these Appellate Judges.

Constitutional Amendment 2 and the battle over human cloning, killing human embryos, and the public funding of such offenses, has distracted us from being able to effectively research judges on the 2006 ballot.

Therefore: Missouri Family Network expresses the following qualifications related to our voter recommendations.

— MFN is 99.9% confident that any judge appointed by Governors Carnahan or Holden are pro-abortion and would engage in activism on life issues, or other such political subjects.

— MFN is 80-90%, or more in some cases, sure that those we otherwise recommend a yes vote to retain are pro-life and practice judicial restrain, according to what we have seen.

— MFN openly solicits any qualified information from citizens which could assist us in building our confidence – or demonstrating any errors in our recommendations.


Judges of the Missouri Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal and Circuit Courts in the St. Louis and Kansas City regions are appointed under the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan.

These judges are not elected to office, are not officially aligned with any political party and do not campaign as other “candidates”. They are not “elected” to office in the traditional sense.

Retention questions related to these judgeships are nonpartisan ballot questions. When voters go to the polls they will be asked to vote YES, or NO, to retain them or not to retain them.

Non-profit organizations and churches are at complete liberty to speak to these retention questions just as they are regarding any other non-partisan ballot question.

Judges of the Supreme Court of Missouri, along with all of the Missouri Court of Appeals (all three districts) and the circuit courts in Clay County, Jackson County, Platte County, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis Co. (Kansas City & St. Louis areas) are all appointed through what is called the Nonpartisan Court Plan. The procedures for these various appointments and any opportunity for voters to retain these judges are outlined in the Missouri State Constitution which operates as follows:

Those seeking to be appointed to fill a vacancy in the appellate or Supreme Court bench apply to an Appellate Judicial Commission, which is comprised of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, three citizens appointed by the governor and three attorneys selected by The Missouri Bar. The Commission will review all the submitted applications and conducts interviews before it selects a panel of three finalists to nominate to the governor. The governor must select from one of those three individuals sometime within 60 days to fill the judicial vacancy. Failure of the governor to make the final appointment would shift the responsibility back to the Commission itself.

Once an appointment is made, that new judge takes office. The new judge then must sit for a retention vote at the next general election after he or she has been in office for at least one year. If at least 50 percent of the voters in that election agree to retain the judge on the ballot, they would then serve a full term on the bench. For all appellate judges, including the Supreme Court, the term would be for 12 years. (For circuit judges, the term is six years, and for associate circuit judges, the term is four years.) This applies despite to the length of time remaining in the term of the judge that for whatever reason has vacated the bench and is being replaced.

The Missouri State Constitution requires that Judges appointed to either the Supreme Court or the Missouri Court of Appeals to be at least 30 years old (may serve until 70), licensed to practice law in the state, citizen of the United States for at least 15 years, and also qualified to vote in Missouri for at least nine years prior to their appointment.


Divided among the state’s 45 Circuit Courts are a total of 107 Circuit and Associate Circuit Judges on the November 7th ballot.

Know Your Circuit Courts!

Please be sure to research your local circuit and state appellate division judges that will appear on the ballot in your local area!

It is very important that citizens understand the state’s court system and investigate the judges who are either running for judgeships or (for those who were appointed to the bench as described earlier) are facing retention votes.

These men & women will be on your local ballot in the General Election, November 7, 2006.

Some of the better sources of information is to contact a variety of law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and trustworthy attorneys to ask about a sitting judge’s “law & order” attitudes.

It is important to note that many of these folks may not be willing to openly criticize a sitting judge but may be very willing to dialogue with you about a judge’s character and/or other qualifications.

(See questions below.)

Missouri’s State Court System Is Broken Down Into:

1 State Supreme Court of 7 Supreme Court Judges

1 Court of Appeals in 3 Districts:
— Eastern District, 14 Appellate Judges
— Southern District, 7 Appellate Judges
— Western District, 11 Appellate Judges

45 Circuit Court Districts with various Divisions, 136 Circuit Judges

114 County Courts serving their given Circuits, 186 Associate Judges

Note: All Drug, Family, Juvenile, or other Probate Commissioners are employed by and accountable to those Judges listed above.

In the Missouri Legislature it would take a minimum of 82 members of the House agreeing with 18 or more Senators, who together could successfully navigate the parliamentary procedures of the Missouri General Assembly to advance liberal social policies, such as homosexual marriage, in our state. (A majority of both bodies.)

In the state court system only one out of 322 judges is needed to do the same thing. An activist court decision would have to go through at least one, or more, Appellate Judges whose decision either way would then go to the State Supreme Court. The pivotal question hinges on who sits on these courts? What would 4 out of 7 members of the high court do? Since its establishment in 1820, Missouri ’s Supreme Court had been both politically and socially conservative – until now! For over 180 years our state has maintained a judicially restrained court – up until just four years ago!

With the appointment of Judge Richard B. Teitelman to the Supreme Court by Governor Bob Holden (his second appointee) the court swung to a liberal domination for the first time in Missouri ’s history. Twelve years of liberal antics from the Carnahan & Holden administrations has changed Missouri for generations to come!

The responsibility of voting for Missouri judges is more compelling than ever!


As far as your Circuit Judges are concerned:

You will have to research them for your own area.

There are 45 Circuit Districts with hundreds of judges.

MFN recommends you call local law enforcement – sheriff deputies, prosecutor(s), and any trustworthy attorneys (lawyers from your area churches who have a reputation of maintaining a consistent Biblical worldview).

Ask these people who interact with the circuit judges about their experiences and knowledge.

– Ask about how a judge either helps or hinders law enforcement?
– Are they willing to get up in the middle of the night to sign search warrants, or do they give the sheriff grief over being troubled?
– Do they help in the fight against meth or are they part of the problem?
– Do they treat people differently depending on which side of town they come from?
– Do they tend to protect certain popular family names, or otherwise treat them with kit gloves?

Law enforcement will not openly campaign for or against the judges they are going to be standing in front of.
But after going through these kinds of questions you will be able to discern any significant problems or outstanding traits that will help guide you and your friends in voting in an intelligent manner that is pleasing to the Lord.



An “activist” judge is one who makes political decisions – not legal judgments.

When a Judge steps outside the parameters of the laws he is to maintain, he assumes the role of a legislator making law rather than a judge who determines if or how a law has been violated. Legislators debate and deliberate as a body of several elected representatives charged with making the law. Judges are only supposed to enforce those laws and no more. Thus, any judge who, for any reason, ignores a law he disagrees with or abuses his authority by imposing the power of his position to enforce legal frameworks that do not otherwise exist in duly adopted laws and ordinances, is acting outside the “rule-of-law” – he is an “activist,” not a judge.


A “restrained” judge is one who discerns legal judgments from within the “rule-of-law.”

Whenever a judge restrains himself from acting on his own personal preferences and applies only the “rule-of-law” in discerning legal judgments, he allows those properly elected to legislate the parameters of the law. Public policy remains within the domain of those public bodies open to public discourse and influence. The role of a Judge is not to make law but to enforce those laws properly deliberated before various bodies of duly elected representatives charged with the role of lawmakers. These Judges set aside their personal preferences in order to enforce the “rule-of-law”. Such restraint qualifies one as a trustworthy Judge.

Judicial Discernment

Voters are asked to elect or retain judges in every election cycle. These are elections, complete with all the high rhetoric surrounding every other political contest. Some have tried to redefine inappropriate judicial activism as mere disgruntlement with a particular judge of the judicial system.

Falsely claiming that ‘activism’ is a “straw man” that doesn’t truly exist in Missouri courts, this “spin” turns the table on the critics.

Anyone who raises questions about judges who step out of their bounds of authority is accused of being the bad guy.

The goal of this “spin” is to make the critic look like a fool who is unwilling to accept the authority of the court only because they are unhappy with the outcome of a case. ( Equally erroneous are charges of activism from folks who really are just unhappy with the outcome of a court case(s).)

Citizens must be cautious to understand the parameters of the various laws related to cases they are concerned about. A conservative Judge who engages in activism is just as wrong as a liberal who would do the same thing. The performance of a Judge is not to be evaluated by the popularity of the outcomes of a given court. Whether you like and support – or dislike and oppose – the outcome of a court ruling has nothing to do with declaring a Judge to be a liberal “activist”, or a “restrained” conservative. Discerning a Judge’s “judicial activism” or “judicial restraint” depends on his adhering to the “rule-of-law”, or if he is taking the law into his own hand to remold it with political decisions according to his personal preference.