by Megan O’Neill
As advertisements and election coverage intensifies in the final week of campaigning, one type of candidate will not grace the television screen. Non-partisan judges serving under the Missouri Plan are prohibited from campaigning for retention, a ban that consequently leaves voters with a shortage of useful information.
This Tuesday, 51 judges will seek retention under Missouri’s non-partisan court plan. Because non-partisan judges do not run against an opponent, the ballot will simply ask voters whether or not “Judge X” should be retained.
Missouri Judges appointed under the plan are nominated by a judicial commission and selected by the Governor. After serving a 12-month period, the public decides whether each judge will return to the bench. Having the final say and ensuring the integrity of the judiciary is essentially left up to the voters.
Missourians can now readily gain insight as to the credentials of judges seeking retention in this election. Because an informed public is essential to keeping the judicial branch impartial and qualified, the Missouri Bar has created www.ShowmeCourts.org to distribute evaluation information and help voters cast a knowledgeable ballot.
This evaluation information is released every election season by Judicial Performance Committees. The committees study results of lawyer and juror surveys, analyze opinions and cast their recommendations.
ShowmeCourts.org issues this, as well as statistical information, for voters to consider before heading to the polls. The importance of an educated voter should not be understated, especially in retention elections that are held so accountable to the people.