The Missouri Plan:
A Model for the Nation
Missouri has more than 400 judges and commissioners. The Supreme Court of Missouri is made up of seven judges. Court of Appeals is divided into three geographic districts with a total of 32 judges. 141 circuit judges, 193 associate circuit judges and 32 commissioners are in the trial courts. Learn about the judges up for retention this year and in the past election years.
Missouri’s counties and the city of St. Louis are organized into 45 judicial circuits. There is at least one courthouse in all 114 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis. The circuit court is typically in the county seat (or the city of St. Louis) and may be in additional locations in the county. Identify your circuit court and learn about the judges up for retention this election year in your district.
Judges who serve under the Missouri’s Non-Partisan Court Plan run in retention elections at the end of their term. They are evaluated by one of seven different committees, either an Appellate Judicial Evaluation Committee or a Circuit Judicial Evaluation Committee. Learn about the evaluation process, criteria of the judicial performance evaluations and members of the evaluation committees.
The Missouri Plan A Model for the Nation
The Missouri Plan, otherwise known as Missouri’s Non-Partisan Court Plan, has become a model for the nation. It continues to reduce the role of politics in the selection and election of judges. It also helps ensure the integrity of the judiciary by shielding candidates from undue pressure.
In the City of St. Louis, and in St. Louis, Jackson, Clay, Platte and Greene Counties, judges apply for their positions on the bench and are selected on the basis of merit. This process is transparent to the public.
In the Missouri judicial process, judges who serve under this plan have been nominated by a judicial commission and then selected by the governor. After their first 12 months in office, non-partisan appointed judges must go before the voters in a retention election. Voters are asked whether each of these judges should be retained. To be retained, each judge must receive a majority vote. If a judge does not receive a majority of votes, his or her judicial office will become vacant at the end of its present term. The judicial commission will then nominate three candidates for the position and the governor will appoint one to fill the vacancy. The terms for appellate court judges are 12 years. Among trial judges, circuit judges serve six-year terms, while associate circuit judges serve four-year terms.