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ASF: “Judicial Selection Process Hijacked”

August 2nd, 2007 by mopns · No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: (573) 636-6060

August 2nd, 2007

Special Interest Group Reverts State to Pendergast Era Secrecy

Majority of Members of the Appellate Judicial Commission

Have Intimate Ties to Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys

(Jefferson City) – The non-partisan, not-for-profit Adam Smith Foundation recently uncovered disturbing information demonstrating that a majority of the seven members of the Appellate Judicial Commission have close ties to the hefty special interest group of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA). MATA opposes litigation reform and its members have reaped millions of dollars in attorney fees for lawsuits ranging tobacco litigation to sexual discrimination claims. “Part of the problem with the lack of transparency in the judicial selection process is that the public is not aware of these relationships and how, as a result, this special interest group influences the process in a potentially impartial manner,” stated John Elliott.

Information gathered by the Adam Smith Foundation shows that MATA held surreptitious strategy sessions to discuss which candidates the organization should back for nomination to the Missouri Supreme Court. In addition, MATA pre-screened a select few candidates at their State Convention in June 2007 and was active in communicating with commission members.

The following information details that the majority of members of the Appellate Judicial Commission and their ties to the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys:

Nancy Mogab, Bar Member for the Eastern District served in a top leadership role as a Governor for MATA.

Richard McLeod, Bar Member for the Western District is an active member of MATA.

Steve Garner, Bar Member for the Southern District serves in the upper echelons of MATA on their Executive Committee.

Appellate Commission Chair Laura Stith, the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, has spoken on numerous times at MATA events and, at the June 2007 MATA state convention, Chair Stith was shepherding one of the appellate judges who later made the Appellate Commission’s panel of three .

“These facts are disturbing, but the public has a right to know—particularly since the Commissioners continue to be unwilling to comply with Missouri Sunshine Law and to disclose personal relationships they have which may affect their ability to use impartial judgment while serving the people of Missouri on the Appellate Judicial Commission. Some have alleged the concerns highlighted by the Adam Smith Foundation are based in partisanship; however, they are positively mistaken. This organization merely seeks to protect the Judiciary from the domineering influence of any special interest groups and those seeking to advance their own political agenda,” added Tom Shupe, Jr.

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Related:

Tony Messenger: “Killing the messenger …”

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