Defending traditional families

Missouri Judges: 2008 General Election – November 4th

Please note: for information regarding Propositions and Constitutional Amendments appearing on the ballot, please see here (or see below)

The Retention & Election of Missouri’s Judges,

Statewide & Local.

Missouri State Supreme Court

(One Judge up for statewide retention)

Court of Appeals Judges

(Five total Judges from two of Missouri’s three appellate districts facing retention votes.)

Local Circuit Courts

(36 Circuit Judges throughout 19 of Missouri’s 45 local circuit courts,

some to face retention votes, others wanting to be publicly elected.)


NOTE:

~ For those concerned with Pro-Life issues and the appointment of Missouri Judges ~

Jay Nixon, democrat candidate for Governor, is PRO-ABORTION

and expected to select judges who share his Pro-Abortion stance.

Kenny Hulshof, republican candidate for Governor, is PRO-LIFE and

is expected to select Pro-Life judges if a judicial commission allows him.


General Election Retention Votes

Apply to the State’s Non-Partisan Court Plan

(Appointed by a sitting Governor and later retained by citizen vote.)

All other Judges are elected just like any public service office.


Judge Patricia Breckenridge, appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court just over a year ago faces her first retention vote.

A Yes vote leaves her on the bench for another 12 years before voters get another opportunity to approve her performance.

A No vote says Missouri’s Nonpartisan Court Plan serves judges and lawyers better than it serves the rest of Missouri’s 5½ million citizens.

Only the Eastern and Southern District Appellate Courts have members asking for retention on this election’s ballot.

Three members of the Eastern District and two from the Southern District are on the ballot in their respective areas of the state.

(The Western District has no members up for retention at this time.)

8 Circuit Courts within the Constitution’s Nonpartisan Court Plan will be seen throughout circuits across the state.

There are 36 candidates facing retention votes within these 8 circuits.

11 more Circuit Courts with 13 candidates for Judgeships (including reelections) are on the ballot in various Circuits around the state.

These candidates are running with partisan associations as Democrat or Republican.  (No third party candidates filed in these contests.)

All total, there are 22 total courts and 55 total candidates seeking retention or contested judgeships, that are part of the

Missouri Judicial branch of government, printed on ballots around the state.  However, because all but one individual only

has jurisdiction in smaller sub-districts, voters will only see a handful of names and courts appearing on their local ballot.

Any additional local municipal judicial elections which may appear on your ballot are NOT part of the

Nonpartisan Court Plan and are NOT covered under any assessment by Missouri Family Network.

Later in this discussion you will find evaluation tips that apply to your local courts and candidates.


Missouri Non-Partisan Judge Retention Votes

2008 General Election Ballot

There is only one State Supreme Court Judge facing a statewide “retention” vote November 4, 2008.

The five 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 only barometer of a judge’s performance prior to their facing a

“retention” vote from citizens requires constant monitoring of their cases and the judgments they hand down.

Each case demands a complete understanding of the laws related to the case.  No judge should engage in any

“judicial activism” (making up fanciful interpretations of law to fit their personal whims) but must adhere to the ‘rule of law’

and “judicial restraint” (judging according to the legislated law) leaving the policy debates of law to the Legislature.

Due to the fact that a “Judicial Commission” takes applications, interviews, and actually selects

“finalists” limits the Governor from selecting judges in a true publicly accountable manner.

Who knows the personalities and politics of these Commissions?

The Governor may only select one of three names handed to him!

Even the pro-life stance of an appointing Governor may not reflect accurately on a given Judge’s performance.

Listed below are the pro-life or pro-abortion positions of those Governors who appointed these Judges.

However, the true test is if the Judge is pro-life and ”judicially restrained”!

Missouri State

Supreme Court

Eastern District Appellate Court

Southern District Appellate Court

Western District

Appellate Court

Retention Questions on

All ballots statewide.

Retention Questions in

Eastern areas only.

Retention Questions in

Southern areas only.

Retention Questions in

Western areas only.

Patricia Breckenridge

Matt Blunt – Pro-Life

Vote “NO”

Robert G. Dowd, Jr.

Mel Carnahan – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”

Gary W. Lynch

Matt Blunt – Pro-Life

Vote “YES”

Kurt S. Odenwald

Matt Blunt – Pro-Life

Vote “YES”

Daniel E. Scott

Matt Blunt – Pro-Life

Vote “YES”

Roy L. Richter

Matt Blunt – Pro-Life

Vote “NO”

Missouri Court of Appeals Districts

Appellate Judge Information

Five out of the thirty-two Judges of the Missouri Court of Appeals are on the November 4th ballot for retention.

3 – Eastern District

2 – Southern District

0 – 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!  Most 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 Governor

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 except from limited names handed to him from the Judicial Commissions.

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!

Supreme Court Judge Patricia Breckenridge promised to behave on the court when selected by Gov. Blunt, and he offered her praise

(over the other finalists) however, the Governor also stated in the same press release that he did not have faith in the Judicial Commission

to put forward any candidates that could be completely trusted.  (No direct quotes – to see Gov. Blunt’s press release dated 9-7-07, visit

the official web site for Missouri Governor Matt Blunt.)


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 limited information and research on these Appellate Judges.

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

MFN is 95% confident that any judge appointed by Governors Carnahan or Holden are pro-abortion and is prone to 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.


NOTE:

~ For those concerned with Pro-Life issues and the appointment of Missouri Judges ~

Jay Nixon, democrat candidate for Governor, is PRO-ABORTION

and expected to select judges who share his Pro-Abortion stance.

Kenny Hulshof, republican candidate for Governor, is PRO-LIFE and

is expected to select Pro-Life judges if a judicial commission allows him.


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 49 Circuit and Associate Circuit Judges on the November 4th ballot.

Some (36) are ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to “retain” appointed judges – others (13) are competing in open contests as partisan candidates.

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!

Examples:

Circuit Judge – Circuit 11 Division 1 (St. Charles)

Ted House, Democrat – Pro-Life

A well known pro-life advocate during his years serving in the Missouri Legislature.

Opposed his party’s pro-abortion leadership and control while serving in both the House and Senate!

Circuit Judge – Circuit 36 (Poplar Bluff)

Mark L. Richardson, Republican – Pro-Life

Voted 100% pro-life during his tenure in the Missouri House of Representatives!

Nonpartisan Judge – Assoc. Circuit Judge – Circuit No. 6 (Platte Co.)

Gary Witt, (Nonpartisan) – Pro-Abortion

Served in the Missouri House as a committed democrat who consistently voted pro-abortion!

Nonpartisan Judges – Assoc. Circuit Judge – Circuit No. 16 (Lee’s Summit)

Vernon Scoville, (Nonpartisan) – Pro-Life

Also served in the Missouri House as a pro-life democrat!

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 4, 2008.

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 45 Circuit Court Districts

Missouri’s State Court System Is Broken Down Into:

1 State Supreme Court                                                 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 2004!  For over 180 years our

state had 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.


“JUDICIAL ACTIVISM”

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.

“JUDICIAL RESTRAINT”

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.