COLUMBIA — Columbia attorney Skip Walther was one of three nominees selected Monday to fill a vacancy on the Missouri Court of Appeals.
The Appellate Judicial Commission interviewed 19 applicants before narrowing the group to three Monday to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge James M. Smart Jr., according to a news release from the Missouri Supreme Court. Boone County Associate Circuit Judge Deborah Daniels was among the applicants who were not selected.
The governor has 60 days to select which candidate will fill the vacancy. If he does not decide in 60 days, the committee will make the decision.
The three finalists are Walther, Clay County Circuit Judge Anthony Rex Gabbert and Kansas City attorney John J. Miller. Gabbert received all seven votes from the commission while Miller and Walther both received six, according to the release.
Walther said many attorneys aspire to become a judge and consider it the pinnacle of their professional career.
“A lot of people want to make contributions to the legal system, and judges write opinions and contribute to the jurisprudence in Missouri,” Walther said. “It’s a worthwhile goal.”
Walther has worked as an attorney since 1979, after graduating from the MU School of Law. He has served as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Boone County and now works at Walther, Antel, Stamper & Fischer, a private law firm. From 2009 to 2010, he was president of The Missouri Bar.
Walther said experience in leadership and as an attorney makes him qualified for the position. But he joked that he only has a 33 percent chance of securing the position.
“No matter who gets picked, the citizens of the state of Missouri will be well-served,” he said.
Before his Feb. 15 retirement, Smart served as an appellate judge for 21 years. Spokeswoman Beth Riggert said Smart was forced to retire because of his age. According to the Missouri Constitution, all judges, except municipal judges, must retire when they reach 70 years of age.