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Missouri Supreme Court


Missouri Supreme Court

Missouri Supreme Court
State Seal of Missouri
Established 1841
Country Missouri Missouri, United States United States
Location Jefferson City, Missouri
Authorized by Missouri Constitution
Decisions are appealed to Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court of Missouri is the highest court in the state of Missouri. It was established in 1820, and is located in Jefferson City, Missouri. Missouri voters have approved changes in the state's constitution to give the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction- the sole legal power to hear – five types of cases on appeal. Pursuant to Article V, Section 3 of the Missouri Constitution, these cases involve:

  • The validity of a United States statute or treaty.
  • The validity of a Missouri statute or constitutional provision.
  • The state's revenue laws.
  • Challenges to a statewide elected official's right to hold office.
  • Imposition of the death penalty.

Unless their case involves one of those five issues, people who want a trial court's decision reviewed must appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals. Most of these cases involve routine legal questions and end there. The Court of Appeals is divided geographically into the Eastern District, Western District and Southern District.

Certain cases, however, can be transferred to the Supreme Court – at the Court's discretion – if it determines that a question of general interest or importance is involved, that the laws should be re-examined, or that the lower court's decision conflicts with an earlier appellate decision. This is similar to the process the United States Supreme Court uses in accepting cases. In addition, the Court of Appeals may transfer a case to the Supreme Court after an opinion is issued, either upon application of one of the parties or at the request of one of the judges on the appellate panel.

Judicial selection

Judges of the court are selected through the non-partisan plan, nationally known as the Missouri Plan. Under the plan, the Appellate Judicial Commission submits the names of three nominees to the Governor. If the Governor fails to make an appointment with 60 days of the nominees being named, the Commission shall make the appointment. Once the judge has served for at least a year, he or she is placed on the general election ballot for a retention vote of the people. If retained, judges serve a term of 12 years.

Notable cases

The following is a list of notable cases decided by the Supreme Court of Missouri or which came to the Supreme Court of the United States from the Supreme Court of Missouri. Since 1973, the Supreme Court of Missouri has heard all cases en banc (before all seven judges). Before that many cases were heard by panels of three judges. Cases heard en banc are cited as "Mo. banc"; older cases heard by a panel are cited as "Mo."

Current judges

George W. Draper III is the latest appointee to the Court, having taken office on October 28, 2011. The judges rotate the two-year term of Chief Justice among themselves. The Chief Justice is Constitutionally empowered to preside over the court and to be the "chief administrative officer" of the state judicial system.[1] The current Chief Justice is Mary Rhodes Russell, whose term began July 1, 2013.

Judge Date appointed Appointed by
Laura Denvir Stith 2001 Bob Holden
Richard B. Teitelman 2002 Bob Holden
Mary Rhodes Russell 2004 Bob Holden
Patricia Breckenridge 2007 Matt Blunt
Zel Fischer 2008 Matt Blunt
George W. Draper, III 2011 Jay Nixon
Paul C. Wilson 2012 Jay Nixon

Clerk of the Supreme Court of Missouri

The Clerk of the Supreme Court of Missouri is responsible for a wide range of duties, including the supervision of the internal administrative function of the Court itself as well as the planning and administrative direction of the Missouri Judicial Conference, the organization of all the state's judges. The office of Clerk is currently vacant, as the Supreme Court's long-serving clerk, Thomas F. Simon, retired May 31, 2011, after serving as clerk for over 40 years, since January 1, 1972. Upon his death at Capital Region Medical Center, in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Sunday, November 18, 2012, at age 71, numerous Missouri state legislators, Supreme Court justices, and county officials praised him as the voice of the Court and as one of the most influential people ever in Missouri state government (according to the obituary report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Simon had been diagnosed with Lewy body disease, a severe form of dementia, a year and a half before his death, around the time he retired).[2]


External links

  • Supreme Court of Missouri webpage
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