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Ballot proposal submitted to change how Missouri picks some judges

Sunday, May 2, 2010 | 5:47 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Critics of Missouri's method of selecting appeals court and some urban trial judges have submitted a ballot measure to overhaul the process.

Currently, people interested in becoming judges apply to special nominating panels that forward three finalists to the governor, who then appoints one. That system is used for the state Supreme Court; three regional appeals courts; and trial courts in St. Louis city and Clay, Greene, Jackson, Platte and St. Louis counties. The judges then stand for periodic retention elections.

A ballot measure submitted Sunday would replace that with partisan elections for all judges. Critics of the nominating committees argue that they are too secretive and are excessively influenced by trial attorneys.

Defenders of the current system contend it works and warn that partisan elections could make things more political.


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