‘Appointed clerks’ bill sent to House for debate

Judge Pat Joyce hosted a brief swearing-in ceremony in her courtroom to name Marilue Hemmel as the new Cole County circuit clerk.

Judge Pat Joyce hosted a brief swearing-in ceremony in her courtroom to name Marilue Hemmel as the new Cole County circuit clerk. Photo by Julie Smith.

The full Missouri House soon may debate a proposal to have Cole County’s circuit judges appoint the circuit clerk, rather than voters continuing to elect that official.

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Despite opposition, the House Special Standing Committee on Judicial Reform on Monday afternoon unanimously voted to recommend that the House pass the measure, which began as a bill to allow St. Louis City’s judges to appoint their circuit clerk.

After state Auditor Tom Schweich’s 19-page audit nearly three weeks ago criticized operations of Cole County Circuit Clerk Brenda Umstattd’s office, Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, added the Cole County language last week to Democrat St. Louis Sen. Joe Keaveny’s bill on the St. Louis circuit clerk.

Umstattd resigned April 18, the day Schweich’s report was released.

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