HJR44C-JUDICIAL COMMISSIONS
Summary of the Committee Version of the Bill

HCS HJR 44 -- JUDICIAL COMMISSIONS

SPONSOR:  Smith, 150 (Cox)

COMMITTEE ACTION:  Voted "do pass" by the Special Committee on
Judicial Reform by a vote of 9 to 5.

Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment
changes the laws regarding the Appellate Judicial Commission and
circuit judicial commissions.  The resolution increases from
three to five the number of judicial candidates nominated by the
Nonpartisan Judicial Commission for a vacancy in the office of
judge of specified courts from which the Governor may make an
appointment.  The Governor may veto the first list of candidates
submitted by notifying the commission within 60 days.  If the
panel of judicial candidates is vetoed, the commission must
submit a second list of nominees.  The Governor must choose a
candidate from the first or second list within 60 days or the
commission must appoint one of the nominees from the second list.

The resolution also changes the composition of nonpartisan
judicial commissions.  The membership of the Appellate Judicial
Commission is changed to consist of:

(1)  Three members of the Missouri Bar, each a resident from a
different court of appeals district, selected by the members of
the Missouri Bar from each district;

(2)  Three citizens who are not members of the bar nor the spouse
of a bar member, each a resident from a different court of
appeals district, appointed by the Governor;

(3)  One citizen who is not a member or the spouse of a bar
member, from anywhere in the state, appointed by the Governor;

(4)  One member from anywhere in the state appointed by the
President Pro Tem of the Senate; and

(5)  One member from anywhere in the state appointed by the
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The membership of a circuit judicial commission is revised to
consist of two attorney members elected by the Missouri Bar
members residing in the judicial circuit and three citizens
residing in the judicial circuit appointed by the Governor who
are not bar members nor the spouse of a bar member.  The term of
all members of the judicial commissions will be four years.

Each appointment to the Appellate Judicial Commission and circuit
judicial commissions, except for the members appointed by the
President Pro Tem and the Speaker, is subject to the advice and
consent of the Senate within 30 legislative days of the
appointment by the Governor.  A governor first taking office has
the authority to remove, within 60 days of taking the oath of
office, any member appointed by a preceding governor, but not the
members elected by Missouri Bar members, and to appoint a
replacement.

The judicial selection process must promote openness and public
access.  All hearings, debates, and votes of the commissions must
be open to the public and to the press with no less than 72 hours
public notice given before each meeting.  The list of applicants
for any judicial vacancy must be a public record with their names
posted on the website of the Missouri Supreme Court, and all
information available to the respective commissions on the
judicial candidates must be made available to the Governor.
Every applicant nominated will be subject to a background check,
including a criminal check, which will not be a public record,
but available only to the commissions and the Governor.
Commission deliberations regarding the final list of nominees may
be closed.

The resolution transfers the responsibility for the approval of
expenses incurred in the administration of the judicial selection
plan from the Missouri Supreme Court to the Commissioner of the
Office of Administration.

FISCAL NOTE:  Estimated Net Effect on General Revenue Fund of an
income of $0 or a cost of More than $7,000,000 in FY 2013, an
income of $0 in FY 2014, and an income of $0 in FY 2015.  No
impact on Other State Funds in FY 2013, FY 2014, and FY 2015.

PROPONENTS:  Supporters say that the Missouri Bar has too much
influence over judicial appointments and the influence is anti-
democratic because it outweighs the influence of elected
officials such as the Governor.  The current process is elitist
and does not offer the Governor enough choice in candidates.
There are few checks and balances in the Missouri Plan which does
not implement the separation of powers principle of giving the
different branches of government influence over judicial
selections.

Testifying for the bill were Representative Cox; and Concerned
Women for America.

OPPONENTS:  Those who oppose the bill say that the Missouri Plan
is generally viewed as effective and has been adopted in many
states.  The bill violates local control principles by allowing
the Governor and Senate to select circuit judges.  The existing
plan is a non-political process that results in less "activist"
judges than the federal system.

Testifying against the bill were Missouri Bar Association;
Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers; Missouri Association of
Trial Attorneys; ACLU; and Missouri School Boards Association.

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Missouri House of Representatives
Last Updated March 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm