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This Week's Stouffer Report - Court Reform - Proposed Changes to the 'Missouri Plan'

This Week's Stouffer Report - Court Reform - Proposed Changes to the 'Missouri Plan'

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Published by Bill Stouffer

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Published by: Bill Stouffer on Jun 28, 2012
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06/28/2012

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 June 28, 2012
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Court Reform: Proposed Changes to the
“Missouri Plan”
 
Last week, I discussed a ballot initiative voterswill see on the August ballot. This week, I willfocus on a question slated to be on the ballot inNovember. Both of these were introduced in theMissouri General Assembly, heard in committeesand fully debated on both the Missouri Senateand House floors.Senate Joint Resolution 51 is the result of 
several years’ worth of debate about the
Missouri Court Plan.Our current way of choosing judges has been around since the 1940s.Supporters of the current system have said ithas been the model for other states and shouldnot be changed. Meanwhile, many states thathave adopted the Missouri Plan have madechanges to it or have abandoned it altogether.Unfortunately, Missouri has changed the plan
since the ‘40s, and it is geared to favor
attorneys who want to become a judgesomeday.Even though the
 office hasnot yet approved this particular initiative, it islikely to happen later this summer and be
 
cleared for the November ballot.The goal of the initiative is to update theMissouri Court Plan. Currently, theAppellateJudicial Commission consists of seven members:one Supreme Court judge, a member of the barfrom each appellate district elected by membersof the bar in that district, and a non-bar membercitizen from each appellate district appointed bythe governor.Senate Joint Resolution 51 would replace the judge member of the commission with anadditional member appointed by the governor.Members appointed by the governor would nolonger be non-bar members. The governorwould then appoint one member from eachappellate district and one from the state atlarge. The appointed members would serveterms of four years. Their terms would bestaggered so that the governor would appointtwo when taking office and two during themiddle of his or her term. The Missouri SupremeCourt would then appoint a former SupremeCourt orCourt of Appeals  judge to serve as a nonvoting member of the commission. Thechanges to the Appellate Judicial Commissionwould take effect on Jan. 15, 2013.
The secretary of state’s office, as we told you
inacolumn a few weeks ago, has approved 143 petitions for circulation in Missouri. If the
secretary of state’s office approves these
petitions, then additional questions wouldappear on the November ballot.The most important thing to do is to vote. As wecelebrate Independence Day, let us alsoremember that a lot of folks have paid theultimate price for us to keep our independence.We can thank them by exercising our right tovote.

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