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Missouri Legislature passes second associate judge, again

Missouri Legislature passes second associate judge, again

May 17th, 2018 by Bob Watson and Jeff Haldiman in Local News

For the second time in a week, the Missouri Legislature has approved Cole County's request to add a second associate circuit judge's position in the 19th Circuit.

That position was removed in 2003, when the third circuit judge's job was added.

Lawmakers on Tuesday sent Gov. Eric Greitens a bill originally written to change the costs that court reporters can charge when producing transcripts of court hearings and trials.

Among the final bill's amendments to the original language is a provision adding the second associate circuit judge to Cole County, to be elected in November 2020 and to begin serving in 2021.

"We need another judge in this circuit," Presiding Judge Pat Joyce said Wednesday. "Reviews of the caseload in this circuit have shown for several years that we need another two and a half judges to adequately serve this circuit.

"When you look at rankings, we're probably either the first or second in the state needing a new judge, especially when you have the Capitol here, all the state offices and employment discrimination cases going through here — it puts us behind where we should be."

Associate circuit judges serve four-year terms, and the position currently held by Judge Thomas Sodergren is up for election this year. Therefore, starting the additional judgeship with the election two years from now means one of the seats would be up for election/re-election every two years.

The bill approved Tuesday also would add an additional associate circuit judge in the 11th Circuit — St. Charles County — who also would be elected in 2020 and begin serving in 2021.

And it would repeal a provision that added a circuit judicial position in the 6th Circuit in Platte County.

The Cole County and Platte County judicial positions also were included in the "Raise the Age" bill sent to the governor last Friday.

The major provision in that bill would make 18 years of age, rather than 17, the minimum for all people to be charged in adult courts rather than in the juvenile system.