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JUDGE STITH: Judicial Commission Violated Own Rules

September 12th, 2007 by mopns · No Comments

Judge Stith just admitted yesterday before the Senate Rules Committee that the Missouri Supreme Court and the Appellate Judicial Commission violated its own rule which it claims excepts it from the Sunshine Law. Judge Stith stated that the confidential list of applicants for the Missouri Supreme Court was “shared with other judges” who were not on the Commission at the same time the Commission was taking the position with the press and public that the list of applicants was not to be shared outside of the Commission. The Adam Smith Foundation released a list of ten questions they would have liked to see Judge Stith answer:

1. The list of Supreme Court applicants was widely distributed outside of the Appellate Judicial Commission, including to some of St. Louis and Kansas City’s largest law firms, despite simultaneous claims by the Appellate Judicial Commission that the judicial selection process must be conducted in absolute secrecy within the Commission.

Have you, as Chair of the Commission, investigated, and/or formally reprimanded anyone on your staff, or anyone on the Commission or their staffs, for violating the rules of confidentiality that pertain to the Commission?

If not, why? If so, why has this not been made public?

2. Can you confirm whether the procedure for in-face interviews was each applicant having a 20-minute interview with each Commissioner? If so, please compare the 20-minute interview for a Missouri Supreme Court judge with the number of interviews and the time it took for the latest executive assistant you hired and the latest law clerk you hired.

3. It is believed that influential trial attorneys, including the leadership of the plaintiff trial attorneys in MATA, were provided with the list of applicants soon after it was complete-a further violation of the Commission’s alleged confidentiality rules.

Did you, or anyone to your knowledge, discuss any applicant with any member of MATA who is not a member of the Commission? Would you acknowledge that selective sharing of information is a violation of the rules that apply to the Appellate Judicial Commission?

4. Did you attend the MATA conference this summer? If so, did you discuss any upcoming vacancies on the Supreme Court? Do you think it is appropriate for a member of the Appellate Judicial Commission including its Chair to discuss vacancies or potential candidates to fill vacancies with a self-interested group such as MATA?

5. Has the Appellate Judicial Commission or the Supreme Court considered any changes to its operating rules in order to prevent similar rule violations in the future and restore public confidence in the tainted selection process?

6. If there are rule violations, do you agree that starting the process anew is appropriate to protect the integrity of the judicial branch of government, as has been suggested by attorneys monitoring this summer’s process?

7. At least one of your fellow Commissioners has publicly stated that they would never allow a person who identified himself or herself as a Republican to sit on the Supreme Court.

Do you agree that this statement casts serious doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the process used to select the panel this past summer for the Supreme Court?

8. Several members of your Court, and of the Appellate Judicial Commission, are on record defending the Missouri Court Plan. In fact, one Commissioner asked several applicants as to whether they would defend the Missouri Court Plan for nominating judges. Is this purely political
question an appropriate area of inquiry when considering an applicant’s credentials for the Missouri Supreme Court?

9. It has been suggested that limiting the ability to select Supreme Court judges to influential lawyers is much like allowing big oil companies to write our energy policy.

Given your support for the Missouri Court Plan, please explain why you believe it is appropriate, in a Democratic form of government, for the selection of Supreme Court judges to be controlled by influential lawyers?

10. Would you oppose legislation modifying the Missouri Court Plan to give ordinary Missourians more of a voice in the selection of their Supreme Court judges or applying the Sunshine Law to the Appellate Judicial Commission?

Related:

SNL: “Missouri Plan is best process”

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Tags: Adam Smith Foundation · MO Supreme Court

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