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Missouri attorney general-elect picks judges for top office spots

Monday, December 29, 2008 | 6:39 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s newly elected attorney general has picked a pair of state appeals court judges to fill top positions in his office.

Two colleagues from the state’s Western District Court of Appeals in Kansas City have been named to key posts in Chris Koster’s attorney general office. Joseph Dandurand was picked to be the deputy attorney general, and Ron Holliger will be the office’s general counsel.

Koster, a Democrat, said Monday that he is looking for people with experience and a deep legal background.

“The fact that both have served in the judiciary is an added element that both of them bring,” Koster said. “Both have practiced law at high levels and both have firsthand experience at dealing with and seeing some of the best attorneys.”

Koster called Dandurand and Holliger “pillars” of the legal community. He said Holliger is among the smartest lawyers in the state and will be tasked with handling highly technical areas of the law. He said Dandurand is an ideal mentor for young lawyers.

Dandurand has been on the appeals court since 2007 and before that was first elected a trial judge in western Missouri in 1986. He also is a past Missouri Bar president and has a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Holliger, a judge for more than a decade, has been a finalist for the last two openings on the state Supreme Court, but Republican Gov. Matt Blunt passed him over both times. Holliger has a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Both Dandurand and Holliger also were involved in a case that ordered the state to pay the attorney fees of a Koster ally, Jefferson City lawyer Chuck Hatfield, who challenged Missouri’s campaign finance laws. Hatfield represented Democrat James Trout, who sued over a 2006 law the lifted the state’s political donation limits.

The Missouri Supreme Court tossed out the law repealing the caps because it was tied to a separate provision that the high court declared unconstitutional.

In October, a three-judge panel of the Kansas City appeals court upheld a trial court decision that ordered the state to pay Trout’s attorney fees. Dandurand wrote the opinion awarding about $100,000 plus interest, and Holliger was one of two judges who agreed.

Hatfield helped raise money for Koster’s attorney general campaign and represented it during legal challenges over the recount in the razor-tight Democratic attorney general primary.

Lawmakers earlier this year once again repealed the political donation caps, and since August, politicians have been able to accept limitless contributions.

 


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