Judicial Selection

Missouri has a hybrid system for selecting judges, known as the Missouri Plan or Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan. All Missouri judges are accountable to the voters, although their selection process varies.

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, judges who serve under the Non-Partisan Court Plan do not run against challengers. Through the Non-Partisan Court Plan, nominating commissions made up of citizens, lawyers and a judge review applications, interview candidates and nominate three well-qualified individuals for the governor’s consideration – who has 60 days to select one of the nominees. The judges are selected based on their merits and must stand for retention before the voters after one year on the bench and the end of each term. This is the group of judges for which performance reviews are published on this website.

The Non-Partisan Court Plan governs selection and retention of judges in the Supreme Court of Missouri, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and six circuit courts (Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in the Kansas City area; both the county and city of St. Louis; and Greene County in the Springfield area).