Be prepared for a lengthy ballot and potentially long lines at the polls on November 6. In addition to the county, state, and federal candidate elections, four state constitutional amendments, three state propositions, seven county questions, and the library district question, Northeast voters will also be asked to retain or remove seventeen judges.
In Missouri, judges are appointed by the governor, and in the general election following the judge’s first year of service, voters are given the task of voting to retain or remove the judge. The terms for Appellate Court judges are 12 years. Trial judges and Circuit judges serve six-year terms, and Associate Circuit judges serve four year terms. This process is designed as an effort to reduce partisanship in the judicial selection process, because judges are, ideally, impartial and faithful to upholding laws, and not susceptible to fundraising or politics. Since 1940, no Appellate judges, and only three Trial judges have ever been removed by voters.
So how does one go about researching judges, and what criteria would one use to make these decisions? Judges are subjected to performance reviews, and receive ratings from the bar association. This may impact your vote. You may find it helpful to read their biographies, which gives insight into their career path. These are personal choices, and there are many websites that provide information about the judges, including yourmissourijudges.org, courts.mo.gov, and 16thcircuit.org.
Northeast News has put together a small chart with each judge that is up for retention, and the governor that appointed them, to give our readers some insight into how long these judges have held their positions.