Public Service Commissioner Robert Clayton appointed to state appeals court

Monday, July 18, 2011 | 6:42 p.m. CDT; updated 7:12 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 18, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — A veteran Missouri utility regulator was appointed Monday to a state appeals court.

Robert Clayton, who has served on the five-member Missouri Public Service Commission since 2003, was named to the Eastern District Court of Appeals. Clayton has the most seniority on the Missouri Public Service Commission and served as chairman from 2009 until stepping down earlier this year. Before joining the regulatory commission, Clayton served as a Democrat in the Missouri House from 1995 until 2002.

Clayton said his experience from the Public Service Commission would help with his new job. The commission is responsible for regulating investor-owned electric, steam, natural gas, water, sewer and telephone companies in Missouri. It operates similarly to a court in a quasi-judicial capacity with some of its duties.

"I am hopeful the skills I've developed — writing, making decisions and then supporting those decisions — will help me transition into this new role," Clayton said.

Earlier this year, Clayton asked Gov. Jay Nixon to appoint a new Public Service Commission chairman while remaining on the commission. Clayton said Monday that he had completed the projects he set out to accomplish while serving as chairman, and that it would have been difficult to continue serving in that role while pursuing the opportunity to serve on the appellate court.

Missouri has its own system for selecting appellate judges and some urban trial court judges. People interested in becoming judges for those courts apply to special nominating panels that examine the applicants and submit three finalists to the governor, who then appoints one. The judges then stand for periodic retention elections. The 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 other finalists for Eastern District Court of Appeals were St. Louis County Judge Michael Burton and St. Louis City Counselor Patricia Hageman.

In announcing the appointment, the governor cited Clayton's experience in public service and with the law.

Clayton, of Hannibal, graduated from Southern Methodist University and completed law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is a member of the boards for the nonprofit Mark Twain Home Foundation that manages historic properties, and Affordable Community Education Inc., which raises money to help support and expand a community college.

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Michael Chavez July 20, 2011 | 11:32 p.m.

I would have hoped that the Honorable Judge Michael Burton would have been appointed to the MO E.D. Appeals Court, but I am glad that Saint Louis City Counselor Patricia Hageman did not get the judicial appointment. It is a bitter sweet result.

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