The Missouri Bar recommends ouster of St. Louis judge

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | 4:42 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY— The Missouri Bar recommended Wednesday that voters oust a St. Louis County judge from the bench in the November election following a survey of attorneys who said she was not competent.

The poor rating for Associate Circuit Judge Judy Draper marked just the third time the bar has suggested a judge not be retained since voters adopted a nonpartisan system of selecting certain judges in 1940.

Draper, who has served as a judge since 2004, did not immediately return telephone messages left at her office Wednesday.

The biennial evaluation by The Missouri Bar focuses only on judges appointed to nonpartisan positions on appeals courts or to trial courts in the St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield areas. Those judges appear on the ballot periodically for yes-or-no votes on whether to keep them in office. Trial judges elsewhere in Missouri run in partisan elections similar to legislative and executive branch candidates.

The bar surveyed attorneys about judges and also sought opinions from jurors and the general public. Committees of attorneys and citizens then reviewed those surveys, as well as judges' written rulings, and made recommendations on whether voters should retain the judges.

Positive recommendations were given to Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer and all 60 other judges reviewed this year besides Draper.

On 18 evaluation categories from the attorney survey, Draper received an average score of 2.4 on a scale of 1-5, which was below the 2.85 retention benchmark set by the evaluation committee. Her lowest rating was in the category of whether she was competent in the law.

In 2008, the bar's evaluation committees recommended the defeat of St. Louis County Associate Circuit Judge Dale Hood. However, voters retained Hood for an additional four-year term with 54 percent of the vote.

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