The Supreme Court of Missouri issued an order dated Feb. 9, 2008, and an order dated June 15, 2016, revising Rule 10. These changes established a mechanism and procedure for performance review of judges seeking retention under the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan.
Judicial Performance Review Committee
Rule 10.50 provides for the creation of a “Judicial Performance Review Committee” to review the performance of judges of the Supreme Court of Missouri, the court of appeals and each judicial circuit whose judges are selected through the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan in order to evaluate the performance of judges based on judicial performance review standards. Judicial circuits where voters have elected to select judges through the Non-Partisan Court Plan include:
- Platte County (6th Judicial Circuit)
- >Clay County (7th Judicial Circuit)
- Jackson County (16th Judicial Circuit)
- St. Louis County (21st Judicial Circuit)
- City of St. Louis (22nd Judicial Circuit)
- Greene County (31st Judicial Circuit)
Membership of Committee
Rule 10.51(a) provides that The Judicial Performance Review Committee shall consist of one member of The Missouri Bar and one citizen not a member of The Missouri Bar from each county selecting judges of the circuit court under the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan as well as one member of The Missouri Bar, one citizen not a member of The Missouri Bar, and one retired judge from each district of the court of appeals.
Rule 10.51(b) states that those appointed to the committee shall reflect, to the extent practicable, the geographic, ethnic, racial, and gender diversity of the state and that members of The Missouri Bar shall be selected on the basis of the county where the lawyer votes in elections for the Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar.
The rule also requires that no member of the committee shall hold any elected public office or hold any official position in a political party.
Appointment of Committee Members
Rule 10.52 provides that the initial appointment of members to the Judicial Performance Review Committee to be made by the Supreme Court of Missouri. Thereafter, members – other than the retired judge members – shall be appointed by the Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar upon nomination by members of the board, by local and regional bar associations and by citizens who are not members of the bar. In acting upon nominations, The Missouri Bar Board of Governors is to give due consideration to nonpartisan, merit factors, such as expertise, experience and knowledge and to geographic, ethnic, racial and gender diversity. Initial retired judge members and all retired judge members thereafter shall be appointed by the Supreme Court of Missouri.
Terms of Members
Rule 10.53 provides that each review committee member, except for the initial members appointed, shall serve a term of six years.
Of the initial members appointed, seven shall have a term of two years, seven shall have a term of four years, and seven shall have a term of six years as designated by the Supreme Court of Missouri.
A member may be appointed to a successive six year term. Members shall not serve more than two terms either in whole or in part. If a vacancy occurs, the vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term.
Any committee member failing to properly perform their duties may be recommended for removal on a vote of not less than two-thirds of the entire committee membership. That recommendation is to be communicated to committee chair, who will in turn forward the recommendation to the Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar. Upon a majority vote of the board that the member has failed to properly perform his or her duties, the member shall be removed and replaced by a new member.
According to Rule 10.54, there shall be a chair to preside and coordinate the work of the committee. The chair shall be appointed from the membership of the committee and retains the right to vote on all matters. The initial chair was appointed by the Supreme Court of Missouri, while successor chairs shall be elected by the committee.
The committee members and chair shall not receive compensation for their services, but they will be reimbursed for necessary expenses by The Missouri Bar, as authorized and directed by the Board of Governors.
A majority of members is a quorum.
Rule 10.55 charges the committee with the duties to:
- Collect information on judicial performance, including survey responses from lawyers, jurors, litigants, and other reliable sources;
- Review judicial performance based on performance review standards adopted by the committee;
- Determine whether a judge substantially meets overall judicial performance review standards by a vote of the members of the committee, showing the total votes cast for and against the proposition;
- Communicate the vote on the proposition to the judge before publication and provide a process for the judge to provide additional information and request a reconsideration of the vote before the vote is make public; and
- Release information to the public about the judicial performance review process and the final vote of the committee, to be disseminated on or before Oct. 1 of an election year by The Missouri Bar and its affiliates in a manner designed to maximize the use of the information by the public.
The Missouri Bar will continue to provide administrative, technological and financial support as may be reasonably required for the judicial performance review process.
The committee considers the following factors in their review:
- The results of a survey of lawyers regarding the skills of the judges;
- The result of a survey of jurors (where applicable) who served on juries before the judge(s);
- The result of a survey of litigants and witnesses who appear before the judge(s)(new feature to be added in 2018);
- Written opinions/decisions provided by the judges;
- Biographical information, provided by the judges, listing their administrative, professional, civic and charitable accomplishments;
- Information regarding any disciplinary actions taken against the judge(s) by the Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline of Judges.
As part of the review process, each member of the committee has access to the complete information about every judge being evaluated. By a vote of the members of the committee, the committee determines whether a judge substantially meets overall judicial performance review standards. The committee’s total votes cast for an against that proposition for each judge is communicated to the public on or before Oct. 1 prior to the general election.
Communication of Committee Findings
The results of the Judicial Performance Review process are distributed on or before Oct. 1 of each election year that judges are up for retention. A press conference is held to distribute the results directly to the media. In addition, a press release with a link to the results located online are sent to media statewide.
Plus, The Missouri Bar prints and distributes thousands of copies of a brochure which contains the committee’s votes cast for each judge as to whether or not they believe the judge meets overall judicial performance review standards and directs readers to www.YourMissouriJudges.org for the complete evaluation information.
www.YourMissouriJudges.org is the optimum way voters can view the committees’ recommendations. Visitors to the website simply choose their locale, at which point they will be provided with a list of those judges who will be on the November election ballot in that part of the state. Upon clicking a particular judge’s name, visitors to the website will see the complete evaluation for that judge, along with a link to the results of survey responses along with the written opinions/decisions considered by the review committee, among other material.