It is Time to Vote NO on Unknown Judges!

Why should politically produced, politically perpetuated, and politically protected political positions be so insulated from public scrutiny?

NOTE:  The following message focuses on judges on your November 6, 2012 General Election ballot.  Those judges running as partisan candidates should have campaign web sites and other information available.  However, there are 51 “non-partisan” judge retention votes on the various State ballots across Missouri.

Our MFN recommendations on many of these “non-partisan” judges are only subjective recommendations.  Objective performance reviews of the vast majority of Missouri’s “non-partisan” judges is simply not available.  In some cases we have records on a particular judge and thus recommend a Yes or a NO vote to retain.  But for those we know nothing about, we acknowledge that any NO recommendation is only a subjective “protest” vote.  For the most part 99.9% of the general public knows NOTHING about these judges.  The costs of obtaining such research is simply unaffordable as qualified attorneys would have to work full time to monitor the hundreds of courtrooms in the State.  No organization exists with available resources to monitor these hundreds of judges and tens of thousands of cases.

The reason for such continued and widespread confusion over the men and women in these important positions is that the Non-Partisan Court Plan does NOT work for Missourians!  It works great for those who get appointed to these judgeships, but fails the citizens of the State by perpetuating such systemic ignorance of who our judges are and/or what has been their performance on the job.  Meanwhile it is the progressive liberal political establishment and the self-appointed political elite that stand guard to protect the Non-Partisan Court Plan as one of the most ‘holy cows’ that cannot be questioned much less changed.  Unelected “commissioners” interview potential judges and propose a slate of three for the Governor to appoint.  Eventually voters are asked to “retain” these judges – but the Plan has absolutely no provision for informing voters anything about them!!!

For this reason Missouri Family Network believes it is completely legitimate for voters to cast a “protest vote” when left totally in the dark about powerful judges that we are expected to approve!  This provides voters an opportunity to send a message to both the court and Missouri’s current and future Governors that citizens expect our courts to be responsible to the rule of law, resist judicial activism and discipline themselves to be judicially restrained!

Yes this is subjective.  But why should we continue, election after election, to accept such unresponsive politics just because criticisms of judges are just as hard to find as their merits?  Why should politically produced, politically perpetuated, and politically protected political positions be so insulated from public scrutiny?  We believe it is time to tell the progressive liberals and political elite that the Non-Partisan Court Plan is broken and must be fixed.  After years of rejected efforts to reform the Plan, it is time for voters to speak the only language these folks understand.  It is time to ask your fellow citizens to vote NO on unknown judges.

Constitutional Amendment 3 offers voters the first opportunity to alter the Non-Partisan Court Plan.  Constitutional Amendment 3 is worded on your ballot to look bad.  This politically biased ballot question was written by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and approved by Attorney General Chris Koster.  Together they are protecting the Trial Lawyers group which controls the process and puts their friend on these courts.

Please vote “YES” on Constitutional Amendment 3.


 Missouri Judges

 2012 General Election – November 6th

 107 Names are on Missouri Ballots Related to Missouri’s Courts

Plus many more local court judges throughout the State’s hundreds of local municipalities.

Retention & Election of Missouri’s

Statewide & Local Judges


Missouri State Supreme Court

One Judge Will Appear On Every Ballot For A Statewide Retention Vote


Court of Appeals Judges

8 Total Judges from Missouri’s Three Appellate Districts Face Retention Votes

Voters in the Eastern District of the Court of Appeals will see 4 judges.

Voters in the Southern District of the Court of Appeals will only see 1 judge.

Voters in the Western District Court of Appeals will see 3 judges for retention.


State Circuit Courts

98 Individuals Are On the Ballot Around the State

(However, voters will only see a handful of names and courts appearing on their local ballot.)

42 Non-Partisan Circuit Court Judges Face Retention Votes

(31 Circuit Judges and 11 Associate Circuit Judges face “yes” or “no” retention votes as part of the nonpartisan plan.)

56 Partisan Candidates Seeking Circuit Court Judgeship Elections

(49 partisan judgeship elections that are not under the nonpartisan plan jurisdiction will face voters throughout Missouri’s 45 circuit courts.)

However, only seven of these judicial seats are contested as 18 democrat and 24 republican Circuit Judges have no challengers!


Municipal Court Judges

There are many more local judges that will be on ballots all across Missouri that are not under the state elections oversight.  These are placed on the ballot by your local county election authorities.  Please consult your local sample ballot in the newspaper printed prior to the November 6th election for a complete listing of ALL ballot measures, candidates, and questions.  If your county has voluntarily submitted your local sample ballot to the Missouri Secretary of State, Elections Division website, you may see a sample ballot online at:

NOTE: MFN has an outline for reviewing local judges below.


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

2012 General Election Ballot


There is only one State Supreme Court Judge facing a statewide “retention” vote November 6, 2012.

The eight Appellate Judges (4-Eastern, 1-Southern, and 3-Western Districts) only appear on the ballots in their respective districts.

(See the Appellate Court map below to clarify which district you live in.)


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” (fanciful interpretations of law to fit personal whims) but must adhere to the ‘rule of law’ and “judicial restraint” (based on 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 Commission members?

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 Question on

All ballots statewide.

Retention Questions in

Eastern areas only.

Retention Questions in

Southern areas only.

Retention Questions in

Western areas only.

George W. Draper III

Jay Nixon – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”

Robert Clayton

Jay Nixon – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”

Also well known progressive liberal

William Francis

Jay Nixon – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”

Cynthia Lynette Martin

Jay Nixon – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”


Gary M. Gaertner

Jay Nixon – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”


Thomas H. Newton

Mel Carnahan – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”



Lawrence E. Mooney

Mel Carnahan – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”

Gary D. Witt

Jay Nixon – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO”

Also well known progressive liberal


Sherri B. Sullivan

Mel Carnahan – Pro-Abortion

Vote “NO” 




Missouri Court of Appeals Districts



  Appellate Judge Information 

Eight out of the thirty-two Judges of the Missouri Court of Appeals are on the November 2nd ballot for retention.

4 – Eastern District

1 – 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!  Most of these judges need to be replaced.   Gov. Matt Blunt maintained a strict standard that judges MUST be restrained on law and supportive of the sanctity of life, but could only pick from the three “finalists’ presented to him by the judicial commission.  Current Governor Jay Nixon has a mixed review from his first term as he strives to distance himself from the extremity of his democrat party’s pro-abortion demands, even though he is pro-abortion himself.

 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 later years administrations 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. 

 Former Governor Mat Blunt 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 could 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 could not place a pro-life judge on the court unless one survived the process to be submitted among the three finalists placed before him!

Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer did survive that process and has earned support from pro-life voters in his 2010 retention vote!

 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 at that time.  (see Gov. Blunt’s press release dated 9-7-07)

 Missouri Family Network acknowledges that there has only been limited information and research on the 2012 Non-Partisan Judges.

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

MFN is 95% confident that any judge appointed by Governors Nixon, Carnahan, or Holden are pro-abortion and prone to activism on life issues, or other such political subjects.

MFN is 80-90%, or more in some cases, sure that those judges we recommend a YES vote to retain are pro-life and practice judicial restraint, 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 MFN 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 98 Circuit and Associate Circuit Judges on the November 6th ballot. 

Some (42) are ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to “retain” appointed judges – others (56) 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!

All judges appearing on your sample ballot that will be in your local polling booth on election day are highlighted in the online Official State Manuel (otherwise commonly known as the “Blue Book“) at:

A simple review of each judge will tell you which Governor appointed them or if they are Democrat or Republican judges (remember party platforms matter).  Admittedly it is overly simplistic to rate judges by mere party affiliation or Gubernatorial appointments, however this is the only viable tool available to average voters to rate the value of our judges.  Any notorious or noteworthy cases along with any other viable information on your local judges should be taken into consideration. 

 Each County in Missouri is in charge of the ballots printed for their citizens.  On a county by county bases some, but not all, counties have provided sample ballots to the Secretary of State, Elections Division. 

These sample ballots are available at:

 To look up your local ballot judges, who appointed them (Pro-Life or Pro-Abortion governors) or if they are politically affiliated with the pro-abortion planks of the Democrat Party or the pro-life planks of the Republican Party, visit the online version of the “Blue Book” at:  

 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.

 Some of the better sources of information are 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 (a majority of both bodies), agreeing together and successfully navigating the parliamentary procedures of the Missouri General Assembly to advance liberal social policies, such as homosexual marriage, in our state.  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 a few 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?
– 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?
– Do they get up in the middle of the night to sign search warrants, or give a sheriff grief over being troubled?

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.

All Non-Partisan Judges Facing Retention Votes In This Election

Missouri Supreme Court     

George W. Draper III

Court of Appeals – Eastern District           

Gary M. Gaertner, Jr.

Sherri B. Sullivan

Robert Clayton   –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  Former Pro-Abortion Member of the Missouri House of Representatives, very bad pro-abortion and progressive liberal voting record

Lawrence E. Mooney

Court of Appeals – Southern District        

William Francis

Court of Appeals – Western District          

Cynthia Lynette Martin

Thomas H. Newton

Gary D. Witt   –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  Former Pro-Abortion Member of the Missouri House of Representatives, very bad pro-abortion and progressive liberal voting record

Circuit 6 – Circuit Judge     

Abe Shafer – Div 1

Lee Hull – Div 2

Circuit 6 – Associate Circuit Judge

Thomas C. Fincham – Div 3

Dennis C. Eckohld – Div 5

Circuit 7 –Circuit Judge      

Anthony Rex Gabbert – Div 2

Larry D. Harman – Div 4

Circuit 7 – Associate Circuit Judge

Janet L. Sutton – Div 7

Circuit 16 – Circuit Judge   

Justine E. Del Muro – Div 4

James F. Kanatzar – Div 5

Charles H. McKenzie – Div 13

Marco A. Roldan – Div 16

Jack Grate – Div 17

Circuit 16 – Associate Circuit Judge          

Kenneth R. Garrett – Div 26

Vernon E. Scoville – Div 28   –  –  –  –  Former Pro-Life Member of the Missouri House of Representatives

Robert L. Trout – Div 32

Circuit 21 – Circuit Judge   

Thea A. Sherry – Div 5

Douglas R. Beach – Div 6

David L. Vincent – Div 9

Michael T. Jamison – Div 10

Michael D. Burton – Div 16

Joseph L. Walsh – Div 17

Richard C. Bresnahan – Div 18

Colleen Dolan – Div 20

Circuit 21 – Associate Circuit Judge          

Mary Bruntrager Schroeder – Div 32

Dale W. Hood – Div 34

John N. Borbonus – Div 35

John R. Essner – Div 37

Sandra Farragut-Hemphill – Div 42

Joseph S. Dueker – Div 43

Circuit 22 – Circuit Judge   

Michael P. David – Div 6   –  –  –  –  –  Former Pro-Life Member of the Missouri House of Representatives

Margaret M. Neill – Div 9

Rex M. Burlison – Div 10

Edward Sweeney  Div 13

Robert H. Dierker – Div 18  – – – – – –  reported to be a strong conservative

John F. Garvey – Div 19

Jimmie M. Edwards – Div 30

Circuit 22 – Associate Circuit Judge          

Calea Stovall-Reid – Div 27

Thomas C. Clark, II – Div 29

Circuit 31      

Michael J. Cordonnier – Div 1

Calvin R. Holden – Div 5  – – – – – – –  Gov. Holden’s brother

Tom Mountjoy – Div 4


 Many contemporary politicians and political activists in the media are seeking to confuse voters.  In order to advance a liberal agenda, these activists support using the judicial court system to create laws and standards that are supposed to be set by the legislative branches of government.  One of the more common false claims they make is to redefine “judicial activism”.  As our culture reels from the onslaught of attacks against traditional/conservative social standards, courts are continually pressured to abandon the “judicial restraint” of applying the rule of law.   Instead, more and more they are creating new laws on their own through “judicial activism”.  Those who would seek to defend this offensive and unconstitutional activism tell citizens that conservatives who cry “foul” are creating a ‘straw man’ argument.  They deliberately work to advance the false idea that accusations of “judicial activism” are merely thrown out because conservatives don’t like a judge’s ruling and that it has nothing to do with the facts of the court case.

This is simply not true.  Please review the following descriptions of these key terms.  A “judicial activist” judge is just as wrong if they attempt to rewrite the law to the left or the right!  Voters must discern when a judge is true to the rule of law and work to change the laws they dislike, not the judge.  Likewise, being happy or disgruntled with a judge’s ruling that steps out from under the rule of law must be addressed according to the standards of the law, not the feelings of anyone affected.


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 as “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.

   Remember – Voting is:

a Blessing rather than a Burden

& a Responsibility, not a Right!