Missouri Judges

Missouri has more than 400 judges and commissioners. There are seven Supreme Court judges and 32 appellate judges on the three geographic districts of the intermediate court of appeals (the Missouri Court of Appeals). In the trial courts throughout the state, there are more than 140 circuit judges, nearly 200 associate circuit judges and more than 30 commissioners and deputy commissioners.

Judicial Selection

Missouri’s hybrid systems for selecting judges ensures all Missouri judges are accountable to the people, while their initial selection may vary. The Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan provides for both partisan and retention judicial elections.

Partisan-elected judges run under a party label against challengers, unless no one chooses to oppose them. Voters elect their local judges during regular elections. Elected judges must run for reelection at the end of each term.

On the other hand, nonpartisan judges do not run against challengers. Voters are asked to vote for or against them based on the strength of their performance on the bench. You may find judicial performance reviews for this group of judges on this website.

Because nonpartisan judges don’t run against an opponent, they are prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct from campaigning for retention. Due to this prohibition, and because judges serving under the Missouri Plan are either appellate judges or serving in large metropolitan areas, voters often have difficulty finding information to consider as they prepare to vote on the retention of these judges.

To help voters gain insight as to the performance of judges seeking retention this year, the Judicial Performance Review Committee – a statewide panel of lawyers, non-lawyers and retired judges – have reviewed the performance of each nonpartisan judge appearing on this year’s general election ballot.

This website, designed and maintained by The Missouri Bar, showcases the performance review for each nonpartisan judge seeking retention this year. For those who are interested in more detail, the numerical results of the lawyer survey and juror survey for each judge are also available on this website, along with copies of the judges’ opinions.

Paid For By The Missouri Bar, Mischa Buford Epps, Executive Director Po Box 119 Jefferson City, MO 65102