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Judges on Missouri’s ballot for the Nov. 3 election

Ask any voter what the most frustrating item on a ballot is and they almost always say “the judges.”

From the State Supreme Court to your local Circuit Court, there is little information to assist the voter, unless you want to spend 100 hours pouring over the rulings of hundreds of court cases.

More information exists for the state’s highest courts – the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals – but even for the Appeals Court, information is tough to come by. But as our court system is based on judges being appointed by the governor and then retained by voters, that appointment system provides one clue: who appointed them. In addition to qualifications for the position including experience, education and more, Governors tend to appoint judges who come highly recommended by other judges and those in the political class. That means for Democrats, they might feel more comfortable with a judge appointed by a Democrat governor, and for Republicans, a Republican governor. But even finding that information can be time-consuming.

Because of the vast number of judges across the state, Metro Voice is focusing on the state’s three biggest court jurisdictions: Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis. The following list of Judges up for retention or election this year provides personal information (if available) and the governor(s) who appointed them. We’ve also included information from news stories on a ruling if that information might allude to the judge’s jurisprudence.

This information is highly sought after and perfect for sharing with your friends and family by email or across social media platforms such as Facebook.

To keep our court system independent and functioning, voters must give some thought to who will hear our states tens of thousands of court cases each year. And as we have seen with the Supreme Court of the United States, Justices almost always begin their careers in these lower courts.

Unlike candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, and of course, President of the United States, you most likely will not recognize a single judge in the list below. That’s why it is important to print a sample ballot from the Secretary of State’s office, your local county authorities, or your local newspaper. Then compare the ballot to the list of judges below to determine your choices on the ballot. If your judge does not appear on the list, visit one of the websites linked below to learn more about them.

 

Supreme Court

Missouri’s constitution says that Supreme Court justices serve for 12-year terms. They may serve for multiple terms but must retire when they turn 70-years-old. Judges can apply for “senior status” if they wish to continue hearing cases on a limited basis.

Patricia Breckenridge

Born in Nevada, Mo.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt

She has an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics and law degrees from the University of Missouri.

The Missouri Bar says that Breckenridge substantially meets overall judicial performance standards.

She began serving as a Missouri Supreme Court judge in 2007 and was retained by voters in 2008.

Breckenridge was named Chief Justice of the Court from 2015 to 2017. Missouri Lawyers Media named her “Woman of the Year” in 2017.

In her speech to lawmakers in January, 2020, she noted that three successive Republican governors named her to the benches on which she’s served. Yet she’s prouder of the line that followed: “It has been my privilege to serve with judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic governors and to work to decide cases according to the law.”

Civic and Charitable Activities

  • Elwood L. Thomas American Inn of Court, Master, 2012 – present
  • Academy of Missouri Squires, 2016 – present
  • Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance (LEAP)
  • St. Vincent’s Operation Breakthrough Day Care Center, Kansas City, Mentor, 1998 – 2007
  • Mattie Rhodes Center
  • Cabot West Side Clinic Board of Directors, 1991 – 1997
  • University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine Board of Directors, 1996 – 1998
  • Rotary International of Nevada, Missouri, 1988 – 1993
  • Co-founder and advisor, Vernon County Women’s Network Community Service Program, 1988 – 1990
  • Co-founder and Member, Council on Families in Crisis, Nevada, Missouri
  • Soroptimists International of Nevada, Missouri, 1983 – 1991
  • Business and Professional Women of Nevada, 1978 – 1990
  • Home Health Advisory Board, Nevada, Missouri, Board of Directors, 1987 – 1991
  • United Methodist Church of Nevada, Missouri

 

Missouri Court of Appeals

Missouri Court of Appeals Western District

Tom Chapman

Born in Chillicothe, Mo.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

Described by Parson as “distinquished jurist whose rural perspective will add additional balance to the court…”

Chapman attended Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri to earn his B.A. He attended the University of Virginia for his J.D.

 

Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District

Kurt S. Odenwald

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt

He was retained in 2008 by voters.

He has Bachelor of Arts, Political Science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and

Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law.

From the news: “His wide ranging experience has carried him from the public defenders office, where he worked with juveniles and hardened criminals alike, to courtrooms in Germany, where he participated in the German Academic Exchange program for two years.”

Civic and charitable activities:

  • Member, St. Louis County Council 1990-2006
  • Chairman, St. Louis County Council 2001-2002, 2006
  • Board Member, St. Louis-Stuttgart Sister City Committee
  • Past Board Member, Character Plus
  • Past Board Member, St. Louis Easter Seals Society
  • Former Member, Advisory Board St. Louis ARC
  • Member, St. Michael the Archangel Church

 

Robin Ransom

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

In 1988, Vannoy received her bachelor of arts in political science and sociology from Rutgers University’s Douglass College in New Jersey. In 1991, she earned her J.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.

Awards and associations

  • 2008:Clarence Darrow Award, St. Louis University School of Law
  • 2006-2009:Family Court Improvement Project
  • 2005-2009:Board member, Wilson School
  • 2005-2009:Board member, Council on Child Abuse and Neglect
  • 2005-2006:Treasurer, Memorial Baptist Church
  • 2001-2005:Volunteer mentor, Big Brothers/Big Sisters program
  • 1993-2007:Sunday school teacher, Memorial Baptist Church
  • Family Court Committee
  • Committee on Access to the Family Courts
  • Council on Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Guest speaker, One Heart Ministries
  • Guest speaker, Hope for Kids conference

 

Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District

Gary W. Lynch

Born St. Petersburg, Florida

Appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt

Retained in 2008

He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and elementary education from Southwest Baptist University in 1974 and his J.D. from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1976.

Professional memberships and activities:

  • National Center For State Courts
  • Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal
  • Missouri Court Automation Committee Chair, 2015 –
  • The Missouri Bar
  • 30th Judicial Circuit Bar Association
  • Polk County Bar Association
  • Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association

 

Associate Circuit Judge 6th Judicial Circuit Platte County

Abe (Quint) Shafer

Born in Kansas City

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

Ann Hansbrough

Born in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

Dennis C. Echold

Born: No info given

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

Circuit Judge 7th Judicial Circuit, Clay County

Jane Lee Sutton

Born in Kansas City

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

David P Chamberlain

Born in Cambridge, Neb.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Associate Circuit Judge, 7th  Judicial Circuit, Clay County

Alisha D. O’Hara

Born in Shawnee Mission, Kan.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Louis Angels

Born in Havana, Cuba

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

Of note: family fled Cuba when he was young. Served in US Marine Corps

 

Circuit Judge 16th Judicial Circuit, Jackson County

Cory L Atkins

Born in Jackson County, Mo.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Kevin D. Harrell

Born in Kansas City

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

Against a prosecutor’s advice, granted a bond reduction then released a mass shooting suspect back into the public.

 

John M Torrence

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Bob Holden

 

Kenneth R. Garrett, III

Born in Kansas City

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

Patrick W. Campbell

Born in Kansas City

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

 

Associate Circuit Judge 16th Judicial Circuit, Jackson County

Janette Kay Rodecap

Born in Decorah, Iowa

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

Denied two women a bond reduction request who had been caught in an FBI sting. The two women used Facebook to lure two young girls into being sex-trafficked.

 

Kyndra J Stockdale

Was previously an assistant prosecutor

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Jeffrey C Keal

Born in Independence, Mo.

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

Established Education in Court in eastern Jackson County to help troubled kids stay in school and off the streets.

 

Circuit Judge 21st Judicial Circuit, St. Louis County

John N. Borbonus

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Bob Holden. Then to another position by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon.

Says he learned from his Navy veteran father and German immigrant mother the value of “sacrifice, hard work and public service…along with the importance of common sense and an even temper.”

 

Renee Hardin-Tammons

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by associtate judge Republican Gov. Eric Greitens then to Circuit Judge by Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

Developed a protocol to allow courts to continue to function while the state was on covid lockdown.

 

Richard M. Stewart

Born in St. Louis

Appointed to Associate Circuit Judge by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon, and by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

Declined to give house arrest to a man accused of sodomy, incest and porn. Required the man remain in jail until a new sentencing was scheduled.

 

Kristine Allen Kerr

Born in Philadelphia, Pa.

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

Released from jail because of Covid, a St. Louis man who was held for three years on first-degree child molestation.

 

Mary Elizabeth Ott

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Governors Roy Blunt and Mike Parson.

Affirmed a restraining order against Dr. John’s Lingerie Boutique and upheld a fine of $157,000 for the stores failure to abide by zoning codes.

 

Associate Circuit Judge 21st Judicial Circuit, St. Louis County

Virginia W. Lay

No personal info

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Lorne J. Baker

No personal info.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Robert M. Heggie

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

Matthew H. Hearne

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Nicole S. Zellweger

No personal info

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

Named “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers.

 

John F. Newsham

No personal info.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Circuit Judge 22nd Judicial Circuit, St. Louis

Elizabeth Byrne Hogan

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt

Found an NFL player Laurence Maroney “not guilty” for drug offenses after attorneys for the plaintiff said a trial would prevent him from seeking a new team. Two police officers testified against him.

 

Katherine M. Fowler

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

David L. Dowd

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Democrat Gov. (served 3 months) Roger Wilson

Ordered that Missouri restore funding to Planned Parenthood through Medicaid.

 

Michael F. Stelzer

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Democrat Governors Bob Holden and Jay Nixon

Granted Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order that allowed it to continue providing abortions without a license. Sided with Planned Parenthood on all cases that came before his court.

 

Scott A. Millikan

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

After a convicted armed robber was released form jail because of Covid, Millikan put him on house arrest.

 

Madeline Orling Connolly

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Calea Stovall-Reid

Born in Springfield, MA

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Joseph P Whyte

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Clinton Robert Wright

No personal info

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Annette Llewellyn

No personal info.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Timothy J. Boyer

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Thomas Adrian McCarthy

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Michael J. Colona

From Arnold, Mo.

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

As a legislator, asked that St. Louis be allowed to be its own state. Proposed a constitutional amendment that would repeal the provision that required marriage be only between a biological man and woman. Reduced Lyft driver (an alleged rapist) bail by 90%.

 

Lynne R. Perkins

Born in St. Louis

Appointed By Republican Gov. Eric Greitens

 

Nicole Colbert-Botchway

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

Steven R. Ohmer

Born in St. Louis

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Roger Wilson (who served just 3 months)

After being asked to do so by defense attorneys in a shooting case, Ohmer recuesed himself after the defense complained the judge had mentioned he enjoyed hunting and had taken many firearms safety courses and had told the defendant that you never point a gun at something you do not intend to shoot.

 

Craig K. Higgins

Appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson

 

Circuit Judge 31st Judicial Circuit, Greene County

Becky J.W. Borthwick

Appointed by Governors Jay Nixon and Mike Parson

 

David C. Jones

Born in Springfield, Mo.

Elected 2009

 

Associate Circuit Judge

31st Judicial Circuit, Greene County

Ronald Carrier

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

Andy Hosmer

Born in Marshfield, Mo.

Appointed by Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon

 

–By Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

Information gathered from several online and print resources (cases from Missouri Frontline) and ballotpedia.com and the official website of Missouri’s courts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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