Missouri: efforts to amend or end merit/commission system of judicial selection introduced in legislature + initiative filed with Sec of State (needs 160,199 signatures)

Efforts to amend or end Missouri’s merit/commission system of judicial selection appear to be ramping up in 2018.

On the legislative side:

  • HJR 47 would end the commission system and allow a governor to fill appellate and select trial court vacancies subject to 2/3rds Senate confirmation. Judges would be subject to yes/no retention elections.
  • SJR 28 would provide that a nominating commission send all qualified names to the governor to fill a vacancy. Currently the constitution provides the commission is to send three names. A similar plan, SJR 11 of 2017, cleared the Senate General Laws Committee last year.

On the initiative side:

Petition 2018-318 The “Missouri Plan for Judicial Fairness and Accountability” needs 160,199 signatures to appear on the 2018 ballot.

  1. End the commission system for appellate courts and replace with partisan elections.
  2. Reduce the terms in office for appellate judges from 12 years down to 6
  3. Require the election of the chief justice by the state at large (currently chosen by the court)
  4. Term-limit appellate judges to two consecutive terms
  5. Allow judicial candidates to announce views on disputed legal and political issues
  6. Void any rule of court that would require recusal/disqualification for any such announcements
  7. Personally solicit funds for their campaigns