COLUMBIA — Attorney Kim Shaw has filed to run for Boone County associate circuit judge, challenging longtime incumbent Larry Bryson in the Democratic primary election to be held Aug. 3.
Surrounded by family members, Shaw, 49, filed her paperwork Tuesday afternoon at the Boone County Clerk's office two hours before the filing deadline. Shaw has been practicing law for 20 years, mostly in mid-Missouri, working as both a public defender and a private attorney.
Boone County's Division V seat, which Bryson has held since 1986, handles both civil and criminal cases.
Shaw said she has seen "thousands and thousands" of cases go through the court system and that her ideal judge is professional, courteous and fair. Her goal is "to be the best possible judge I can be," she said.
She said she supports DWI and drug courts, which offer alternatives to prison time for some offenders.
"I have seen great things come out of both those courts," Shaw said, citing participating clients "who I truly believe will not be back."
In a news release accompanying the filing, Shaw stated she would bring "renewed energy and focus" to the bench, and that she "would be the kind of judge Boone County residents deserve — a judge who will make reasoned decisions after carefully considering the law and listening to all parties involved in each case."
That's not to say that Bryson isn't. When Shaw fielded questions from reporters Tuesday afternoon, she was careful not to criticize the sitting judge. Shaw said she appeared in Bryson's courtroom weekly and had told him Tuesday that she planned to run. She said she would try to shift her cases off Bryson's docket to avoid any potential conflicts now that she's a candidate.
Shaw said a group of attorneys from the Boone County Bar Association had approached her about running after meeting in December; public defender Jennifer Bukowsky was one of them.
"It's important for our judicial system to have elections that are contested," Bukowsky said. She said elections help make judges more accountable.
None of the other office-holders up for re-election were facing challengers as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Boone County Clerk's office. Among the incumbents are Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight, and associate circuit judges Christine Carpenter, Leslie Schneider and Deborah Daniels.
But regardless of the outcome in August, the court should have a different look by the end of the year. Gene Hamilton, presiding judge of the 13th Circuit Court for Boone and Callaway counties, is expected to retire Sept. 30 after more than 35 years as a judge. Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler will take his place as presiding judge.
According to previous Missourian reports, the timing of Hamilton's September retirement date means his successor could be appointed by the governor.