The Missouri Supreme Court is the highest tier of court within the state of Missouri today. Established in 1820, the court is located in Jefferson City, Missouri. Missouri voters have approved changes to the state’s constitution to give the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction, known as the sole legal power to hear, five types of cases on appeal.
These five include the validity of a United States statute or treaty; the validity of a Missouri statute or constitutional provision; state revenue laws; challenges to a statewide elected official’s right to hold office; and imposition of the death penalty. Unless a case appeals to one of those five issues, people who want a trial court’s decision on their outcome must appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals. Most of these cases involve routine legal questions and end at that point. The Court of Appeals is divided based on geographic boundaries. They are divided as follows:
- Eastern District
- Western District
- Southern District
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Certain cases can be transferred to the Supreme Court, at the Court’s discretion, if it determines that a question of general interest or importance is involved with the outcome. Additionally, if laws should be re-examined or that the lower court’s decision conflicts with an earlier appellate decision, the Supreme Court also calls for the transfer of the cases. This is a similar process to the United States Supreme Court. Lastly, the Court of Appeals may transfer a case to the Supreme Court after an opinion is issued, either upon application of one of the parties or at the judges’ request on the appellate panel.
Judge Selection of the Missouri Supreme Court, Jefferson City, Missouri
The Supreme Court judges are selected through a non-partisan process, also known as the Missouri Plan. Under this specific plan, the Appellate Judicial Commission submits three nominees’ names for the governor’s position. The governor then has the choice to act on the matter. If the governor fails to make an appointment with 60-days of the nominees being named, the commission shall make the appointment directly on their own. Once the judge has been in place and served the state for at least one year, the person is lace don the general election ballot for a retention vote from the people of Missouri. If retailed, they are permitted to serve for 12-years. In most all cases, the public elects to retain the appointed judge.
Current Judges of the Missouri Supreme Court
Brent Powell is the latest appointee to the Court, appointed by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens in April 2017. The judges rotate the two-year term of Chief Justice among themselves. The Chief Justice is constitutionally empowered to preside over the court and is also labeled as the “chief administrative officer.” Right now, the serving Chief is Zel Fischer, whose term began on July 1, 2017. It will end on June 30, 2019.
The court consists of:
- Laura Denvir Stith
- Mary Rhodes Russell
- Patricia Breckenridge
- Zel M. Fischer
- George W. Draper III
- Paul C. Wilson
- W. Brent Powell
Missouri Courts Newsroom – Press Releases