For the first time, the public can watch interviews of candidates for the Missouri Supreme Court. According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, 13 candidates are being interviewed today and tomorrow to replace retiring Supreme Court Judge Michael Wolff.
Missouri’s merit selection appointment system is the oldest in the country, and it has come under relentless attack in recent years, by activists seeking to modify it heavily or replace it with competitive elections. In prior years, candidate interviews had been closed to the public. The current panel’s final deliberations will remain private, but the number of votes for each of three finalists will be made public.
According to the article, “former state Supreme Court Chief Justice William Ray Price Jr. said last year that opening up the nominating process would ‘strengthen the finest judicial selection plan in the country.”
John Johnston, president of the Missouri Bar, said, “The more people see of the merit-selection process that we have in Missouri, the more confident they will become that it is the best way to select our judges … There was a time when people were OK with government conducting business behind closed doors. But we’ve evolved to where people demand more transparency.”
The judicial nominating panel interviewing the panel will send three names to Gov. Jay Nixon (D), who will have 60 days to make a selection. The panel includes three members named by the Missouri bar, three citizens named by Gov. Nixon, and Chief Justice Richard Teitelman. To see the full Post-Dispatch story, click here.