The Missouri Constitution, Article V, Sections 25 (a-g) and the Missouri Supreme Court, Rule 10 govern the Non-partisan court plan.
The Greene County Non-partisan Court Plan was adopted by the voters of Greene County in the, November 4, 2008, general election. This plan sets up "The Thirty-first Circuit Judicial Commission", comprised of 5 members, who submit 3 judicial candidates to the Governor for his selection when there is a judicial vacancy in the 31st Circuit Court. The Governor will then appoint one of these three candidates to fill the open position.
Members of the Thirty-first Circuit Judicial Commission:
The Honorable Mary W. Sheffield
Chief Judge, Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District Springfield, Missouri Term expires June 30, 2017
Andrew K. Bennett
Springfield, Missouri Term expires December 31, 2017
Steven B. Garner
Springfield, Missouri Term expires December 31, 2019
Mr. Steven Stepp Springfield, Missouri Term expires December 31, 2018
Ms. Joann Hosmer Springfield, Missouri Term expires December 31, 2021
Upon serving at least 12 months for a new appointee or the completion of a normal term, each circuit or associate judge will be placed on a general election ballot to determine if the voters want to retain that particular judge. It takes a simple majority vote to remove a sitting judge by retention vote.
The next judicial retention votes are:
November 2016 for Division(s) - 3, 23, & 26
November 2018 for Division(s) - 1, 4, 5, 21, 22, 23, 24, & 25
November 2020 for Division(s) - 2
November 2022 for Division(s) - 3, 21, 22, 23, 24, & 25
November 2024 for Division(s) - 1,4, & 5
Note: Divisions 1-5 are on a 6 year cycle, while 21-25 are on a 4 year cycle.
A voter guide will be prepared by a "Circuit Judicial Evaluation Committee" to assist voters in their decisions to retain a Judge or not. This Evaluation Committee will consist of 12 members who reside in Greene County; 6 members of the Missouri Bar and 6 citizens, who are not members of the bar. This Evaluation Committee will be appointed by the board of governors of The Missouri Bar. The Evaluation Committee should reflect the diversity of the committee's constituency.
Election Procedures for:
"The Thirty-first Circuit Judicial Commission"
The Thirty-first Circuit Judicial Commission shall consist of the Chief Judge of the Southern District of the Court of Appeals, two members of The Missouri Bar residing in the 31stJudicial Circuit (whom are elected by the members of The Missouri Bar residing in the 31stJudicial Circuit), and two citizens (not members of the Bar, who are residents in the 31stJudicial Circuit) appointed by the Governor.
No member of any commission referred to above, other than a judge, shall hold any public office, and no member of any such commission shall hold any official position in a political party.
The term of office of elective and appointive members of any commission shall be six years. The terms of the elective and appointive members expire on December 31st of their last year in office. The commission terms expire as indicated below:
2017 - Elected Lawyer Member 1
2018 - Governor Appointed Member 2
2019 - Elected Lawyer Member 2
2020 - Governor Appointed Member 1
2023 - Elected Lawyer Member 1
Elective and appointive members of any commission shall hold office for the terms for which they were elected or appointed and until their respective successors are duly chosen. However, no member, except one serving out the unexpired term of another, shall be appointed or elected as his own successor. When a vacancy occurs in the office of any elective or appointive member of a commission such vacancy shall be filled by election or appointment, as the case may be, for the unexpired term.
All elective and appointive members of any commission shall, before entering upon their duties, take an oath to support the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Missouri, and to demean themselves faithfully while in office, and that they will not disclose or reveal any fact or information obtained by them or any of the proceedings of the commission having to do with any matter brought before the commission. Such oath of office shall be administered by the Chairman of the Commission to each member before that member can carry out his duties under the provisions of these rules.
A proposed nominee may have his name printed on the ballot by mailing or delivering a nominating petition to the clerk in whose office the election is to be held, provided that said petition must be received by the clerk not later than thirty days before the election. A member to be elected to the Thirty-first Circuit Judicial Commission, such petition must be signed by not less than ten members of the Bar in good standing residing in such circuit. If any member of the Bar shall have signed a petition for a proposed nominee for a particular office and term and such petition shall have been received by the clerk as above provided, his signature on any petition for another proposed nominee for the same office and term shall not be counted, unless the first proposed nominee shall have died, become disqualified or given written notice to the clerk of his withdrawal as a proposed nominee. This doesn't apply to run-off elections.
Within ten days after the election the Greene County Circuit Clerk shall certify the results as so tabulated to the Secretary of State and to the clerk of the Supreme Court. The clerk and other canvassers shall not disclose how any voter cast his ballot except upon an order of this Court, or in the course of giving evidence lawfully required.
If at any election any person receives a majority of all of the valid votes cast for a particular office and term he shall be deemed elected. If no person receives a majority there shall be a run-off election, except that if before the time for holding such run-off election all or all but one of the candidates entitled to have their names printed on the ballots at such run-off election shall have died, become disqualified, or given written notice of their withdrawal to the clerk in whose office the election was held, there shall be no run-off, but there shall be a special election for the office and term in question.
If no person shall be elected at any election or run-off election in circumstances where no run-off, or further run-off, election is required by this rule (as, for example, if the person receiving a majority of all the valid votes cast shall have died before the election is complete) there shall be a special election for the office and term in question.
The Thirty-first Circuit Judicial Commission
A commission shall act only at a meeting duly called pursuant to and may act only by the concurrence of a majority of its members.
- Meetings of a commission may be called by the chairman or a majority of the members by written or telegraphic notice to the other members specifying the date, time and place of the meeting. Such notice shall be mailed or sent at least five days before the time specified, except that a meeting may be held on shorter notice if the notice specifies that the meeting will be an emergency meeting. The place of meeting specified in the notice may be any place in the 31stJudicial Circuit. Notice of the meeting may be waived by any member or members either before or after the meeting takes place, and attendance at a meeting by any member shall constitute a waiver of notice by such member unless he shall, at or promptly after the beginning of such meeting, object to the holding of the meeting on the ground of lack of or insufficiency of notice.
- Meetings of any commission may be held without notice to the members at any time or place whenever the meeting is one as to which notice is waived by all members or whenever the commission at a previous meeting shall have designated the time and place for such meeting.
- Notice of the date, time and place of meetings shall be made public at least 24 hours before the meeting unless for good cause such notice is impossible or impractical, in which case as much notice as is reasonably possible shall be given.
Each commission shall choose one of its members as chairman. The chairman shall preside at any meeting at which he is present; in his absence the commission shall choose a member to act as temporary chairman.
Each commission shall choose one of its members as secretary. It shall be the duty of the secretary to prepare and keep the minutes of all meetings. In the secretary's absence the commission shall choose a member to be acting secretary.
The minutes shall record the names of the members present, any objections to the holding of the meeting on the ground of lack of or insufficiency of notice, any and all action taken by the commission, and any other matters that the commission may deem appropriate.
When it is known that a vacancy will occur at a definite future date, the commission may within sixty days of said date make its nominations and submit to the Governor the names of the persons nominated before the occurrence of the vacancy. Each commission shall select the three best qualified nominees. Accordingly, the commission should not limit its consideration to persons who have been suggested by others or to persons who have indicated their willingness to serve. It shall be in order for the commission, if it sees fit to do so, to tender nomination to one or more qualified persons, prior to, and subject to, the formal action by the commission in making its nominations, in order to ascertain whether such a person will agree to serve if nominated.
- When a vacancy occurs or when it is known that a vacancy will occur at a definite future date, the chairman shall publicize the same and solicit the submission of names of individuals qualified for such vacancy. Prior to the meeting of the commission an appropriate questionnaire shall be sent to each person whose name is proposed, to be completed and returned to the chairman of the commission. Copies of the completed questionnaire shall be provided each member of the commission prior to the meeting called for the taking of the formal action by the commission in making its nominations.
- No publicity shall be given by the commission of the names of persons under consideration for nomination for the reason that such publicity would tend to keep well qualified lawyers from permitting themselves to be considered and might encourage unqualified persons to enter their names to obtain public notice. The commission may submit the names of applicants to others on a confidential basis for the purpose of securing appropriate background information to the extent authorized by the applicants' signed written waivers.
- Any meeting called for the purpose of taking formal action in making nominations necessarily involves discussion of applicants' personal information and shall, therefore, be a closed meeting. All matters discussed at said meeting, except the matters contained in the certificate of nomination, shall be kept confidential.
- The commission shall publicly release information relating to the number and characteristics of the applicants prior to the meeting at which formal action is taken, but it shall not release any personally identifiable information about any person not included in the certificate of nomination.
- Within 72 hours of submitting the certificate of nomination, the commission shall transmit to the governor the applications and other information submitted to the commission pertaining to the persons contained in the certificate of nomination. Within the same time, the commission shall make public a copy of the applications submitted by the persons included in the certificate of nomination, but with personal or confidential information redacted.
The action of the commission in making nominations with respect to any vacancy shall be taken only at a meeting, and the voting on persons under consideration shall be by secret ballot. When a decision as to the three nominees has been reached it shall be evidenced by the execution of a certificate of nomination (which may be in the form of a communication to the Governor), setting forth the nominations made, signed on behalf of the commission by the chairman and the secretary. The commission or its chairman shall forthwith transmit such certificate to the Governor.
The conduct of candidates for any judicial office to be filled pursuant to Sections 25(a)-(g) of Article V of the Constitution shall be governed by and be in accord with the applicable provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Canons of Judicial Ethics. In particular the aspiration of lawyers for judicial position should be governed by an impartial estimate of their ability to add honor to the office and not by a desire for the distinction the position may bring to themselves. If a judge, or a person in an office of a judicial nature, becomes a candidate, he should refrain from all conduct that might tend to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is using the power or prestige of his judicial position to promote his candidacy. He should not permit others to do anything in behalf of his candidacy which would reasonably lead to such suspicion.
It is the duty of the Bar to endeavor to prevent partisan considerations, political or otherwise, from outweighing judicial fitness in the selection of judges. The Bar should protest earnestly and actively against the selection of those who are unsuitable for the Bench.
The following provisions shall apply to all commissions:
- The public, the judiciary, and the bar shall be permitted to provide comments regarding the nomination of any individual. Comments may be made in writing or orally.
- A copy of all written communications between a commission member and any other person or organization regarding the qualifications or potential nomination of any candidate shall be provided to all other commission members.
- All oral communications between a commission member and any other person or organization regarding the qualifications or potential nomination of any candidate shall be summarized in writing by the commission member and a copy of the summary shall be provided to all other commission members.
- All communications between a commission member and any other person or organization shall be deemed confidential and not disclosed to anyone not a member of the commission, except as otherwise provided in this Rule 10.
- If a commission member is aware of any possible conflict of interest he or she has with a candidate or if for any reason a commission member is unable to vote on any candidate solely in accordance with the relative merits of that candidate, the commission member shall disqualify himself or herself or report the same to the other commission members.
- The commission shall actively seek out and encourage qualified individuals, including women and minorities, to apply for judicial office. The commission shall further take into consideration the desirability of the bench reflecting the racial and gender composition of the community. Each commission member, however, shall cast his or her votes solely in accordance with the relative merits of the applicants so as to select the three best qualified nominees.
- Each commission shall adopt:
- A uniform application form similar to that used by the Appellate Judicial Commission;
- Rules for voting, available in advance to the candidates, which shall prohibit cumulative voting whereby a commission member casts multiple votes on the same ballot for the same candidate; and
- Policies to provide professional training for each commission member, shortly after appointment, concerning the member's constitutional, statutory and other duties, including familiarization with the handbook for judicial nominating commissioners published by the American Judicature Society.