JEFFERSON CITY — A special commission that nominates judicial candidates gave Gov. Jay Nixon the choice Thursday of an attorney, a trial judge or an appeals court judge to fill a vacancy on the Missouri Supreme Court.
The three finalists for the state's highest court are Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners, Eastern District Court of Appeals Judge George Draper III and St. Louis attorney Joe Jacobson.
Under the Missouri Constitution, the Appellate Judicial Commission was responsible for screening the 13 applicants and recommending three finalists. The governor now has 60 days to decide whether to appoint one of them to succeed Judge Michael Wolff, who resigned in August after serving 13 years on the state Supreme Court.
The commission's proceedings this week marked the first time that applicants for the state Supreme Court were interviewed in public sessions. It also marked the first time that the commission's votes were released. After seven rounds of closed-door balloting by the seven-member commission, Manners got seven votes to make the finalist list, Draper got five and Jacobson got four.
Manners, 60, of Lee's Summit, has been a circuit judge since November 2000 served as a prosecuting attorney for Smithville for 18 years. He also practiced law in Independence for 24 years. Manners has a political science degree from the University of Central Missouri and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Draper, 58, of Chesterfield, has served on the Missouri Court of Appeals since May 2000. He worked in the St. Louis circuit attorney's office from 1984 until he was appointed as an associate circuit judge in 1994. He was appointed as circuit judge in 1998 and also has served as an adjunct professor at the Saint Louis University law school. Draper has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Morehouse College in Atlanta and a law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Jacobson, 50, of University City, is a shareholder in the St. Louis law firm of Green Jacobson PC. He has a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis and a law degree from Boston University.