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Judge Frank Conley passes away overnight in Columbia

A judge who presided over many high-profile cases in Mid-Missouri passed away overnight on Monday.

Frank Conley was a Boone County prosecutor before becoming a judge in the 13th Circuit Court.

He served in that role for three decades before his state-mandated retirement in 2002, at the age 70.

After his retirement, Judge Conley continued to serve on the roster for the Missouri Supreme Court.

He also ruled in a murder case of former Columbia police officer Steven Rios who killed University of Missouri student Jessie Valencia in 2004.

Judge Conley’s successor, now-retired Judge Gary Oxenhandler says when a lawyer went before Judge Conley they had to be on their toes and says Conley was an intimidating force.

Oxenhandler said, “I think everyone who went before him had the willies. And I’ll tell you, I never lost them. I saw him at a concert about two weeks ago and I went over and chatted with him for a brief moment. And I had the willies while I was walking over there.

Judge Kevin Crane described Conley as “looking and acting like what you think of as a judge. When I was in front of him, he had a great head of snow white hair, was a very dignified, tall, exacting guy.”

Crane went on to say that Conley made good calls without much time to make them, and was known statewide as a great judge.

The Boone County Bar Association released the following statement:

“Frank Conley’s career included, among other things, working at a private law firm and as Boone County’s prosecuting attorney, 30 years as a judge in the 13th Judicial Circuit for Boone and Callaway counties, with many years as presiding judge, and later work as a senior judge. He impressed all with his dedication and professionalism and will not only be missed as an attorney and judge, but also as a good friend and mentor to many bar members.”

Conley was 84 years old.

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