By DAVID A. LIEB
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Judge George W. Draper III, who has served for the past 17 years as a trial and appellate judge in the St. Louis area, was appointed Wednesday to fill a vacancy on the Missouri Supreme Court.
Gov. Jay Nixon chose Draper from among three finalists to replace Supreme Court Judge Michael Wolff, who resigned in August to resume teaching at the Saint Louis University School of Law.
Draper, 58, of Chesterfield, has served on the Court of Appeals' Eastern District since 2000. He previously was appointed as an associate circuit judge in 1994 and as circuit judge in 1998 in St. Louis County. Before becoming a judge, Draper worked for 10 years as a prosecutor in St. Louis County.
"Those decades of experience and his legal acumen will enable him to be an outstanding judge on the Missouri Supreme Court," Nixon said in a news release announcing Draper's appointment. "I am very pleased to be able to name this eminently qualified jurist to the state's highest court."
Under Missouri's judicial selection process, a special commission interviews applicants for vacancies on appellate courts and narrows the field to three nominees. The governor then can appoint one of them, who will later go before voters in a yes-or-no retention election. No judge appointed to the Supreme Court has been ousted in those elections.
The other two finalists for the seat given to Draper were Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners and Joe Jacobson, an attorney in St. Louis.
Draper will be Missouri's second black Supreme Court judge, following Judge Ronnie White who served from 1995 to 2007.