Place of residence: Columbia
Political experience: Ran for Associate Circuit Judge in 2014. Was unsuccessful in the primary.
Education: Hickman High School graduate 1983; bachelor of arts in speech communication, University of Missouri-St. Louis; Juris Doctorate, University of Missouri-Columbia
Opponent: Brouck Jacobs
What makes you the best candidate for the position?
There are three areas of experience that matter for Judicial candidates. Legal Experience, Life Experience and Experience with the Community.
First, with regard to Legal Experience, I have practiced law for 21 years in Central Missouri. I have represented hundreds if not a thousand Mid-Missourians and have handled hundreds of civil and hundreds of criminal cases to conclusion. I have litigated many types of criminal cases, civil contract cases, landlord-tenant (on both sides), represented many small businesses, handled personal injury, probate matters, divorce, family law, juvenile, nearly every type of case possible. I have had Jury Trials, Bench Trials, Appeals and have handled Federal cases, including a 158 million dollar mortgage fraud case against Citibank, for the United States. I have handled cases in 21 of the 46 judicial circuits in Missouri.
It’s crucial to have decades of experience in civil cases, because civil matters are around 45% of the cases a Circuit Court Judge manages and they are often more complex than criminal cases. Without truly significant numbers of years handling civil cases, a candidate will have to learn far too much “on the job” and will have difficulties fully understanding civil cases. Ask a local lawyer about that!
With regard to life experience, I am 54, have been married to Becky for over 30 wonderful years and raised two sons to adulthood.
I also had 7 years of blue and white collar job experience before Law School, so I understand those jobs and that life.
Finally, for experience with the Community, I have lived here for over 30 years, raised my family here and worked side by side with many central Missourians for decades. I’m a Kewpie and a Tiger.
Compare my experiences to my opponent. There is a substantial difference. He was appointed to the bench by former Governor Greitens last October, so he has to stand for election November 6 in order to have a full term. I offer a more experienced alternative.
If elected, how do you plan to approach the job?
The same way I approach my legal practice. This is a challenging job if treated appropriately. I will be prepared for each hearing, by having done my “homework” ahead of time. I have had many court appearances where a Judge had not read the file before court and had to be educated about what was happening that day. I will have read and understood the case and the file before each appearance. I will work hard for our community, but will do so with the proper Judicial temperament. I am courteous to my opponents and work hard to win my cases for my clients without embarrassing them with poor behavior or lack of preparedness. I will provide a closer connection between our Judges and the public. The more the average person knows about how our judicial system functions and what really happens, the more comfortable that person will feel with our system. Because I have led such a “well traveled” life, I will understand most people who are before me in court and can provide the most educated result for all. Most importantly, I will fairly and justly apply the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the State of Missouri.
What are the most pressing issues in our criminal justice system?
Generally speaking, our Public Defenders are completely overworked. They are excellent lawyers, but their caseload is hundreds of cases each, which is far too many. They cannot give their clients the kind of care they want to provide simply because there are too many cases. Currently, there is an approximately 700 person waiting list for a Public Defender. That is a tragedy.
The other pressing issue is Bail. There is a lot of interest in whether defendants are sitting in jail with relatively minor nonviolent charges, waiting for their cases to progress because they cannot afford bail. That is a waste of our counties’ resources and results in defendants pleading guilty at times without really being guilty, so that they can get out of jail and get on with their lives. Our court administration and judges are addressing this issue, but there is still room for improvement.