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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News Tribune Cotton Walker, candidate for Associate Circuit Judge of Cole County.

Experience. Cotton Walker said the word defines why he should be elected Cole County associate circuit judge.

Walker, who faces Republican Tim Anderson in the Aug. 7 Republican primary for the post, has a long history in municipal courtrooms.

From 1994-2017, he was municipal judge in Russellville. He served as city prosecutor in Jefferson City from 1995-97 and was elected municipal judge in Jefferson City in 2011; he continues to serve in that position and also currently volunteers as truancy court judge for Cole County.

"After 24 years of municipal experience, being asked to serve as associate circuit judge for Cole County is a natural progression in my commitment to our community," he said. "The associate division of our circuit court handles all criminal misdemeanors and infractions, the same type of criminal cases I have presided over in municipal court. An associate circuit judge also conducts preliminary hearings on felony cases and may also hear civil cases. This is law and justice for real people in our community. Serving in this position will be an extension of how I have been involved in the community and in my law practice representing individuals and businesses for over a quarter century."

Along with his time on the bench, Walker said he has worked in other ways to try and improve the court system for all residents. He has served on the board of directors for the Missouri Municipal and Associate Circuit Judges Association.

"I just completed a term as president of this statewide organization, which is responsible for the education of judges in order to maintain the highest possible judicial standards in our courts," he said. "I also have accepted committee appointments by the Missouri Supreme Court to work with the Office of State Courts Administrator with the same goals for our strong and independent judiciary."

Through this public service, Walker said he has continued to work for justice in the courts and in Cole County.

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"Municipal court is where most people get their first, and often only, experience with the court system," he said. "Insuring that defendants and other attendees leave court with a sense of procedural fairness — including an understanding and appreciation that the judicial process they just experienced is separate and distinct from the executive (police and prosecutor) and legislative (city council) functions of government — is imperative and is a goal I endeavor to meet in each and every case, regardless of outcome."

Walker said his experience on the bench is something that cannot be replicated, even in the practice of law.

"There are lessons to learn, and I am a better judge now than I was when I started," he said. "The art of deciding cases in a fair and impartial manner is critical to the justice system. This is an art I have constantly strived to hone."

As of April 12, Walker's campaign committee, Cotton Walker for Judge, had $15,807 on hand. The committee had received contributions of more than $100 from: Ogugua Anunoby, $150; Bob Bloomber, $125; Eric Burkett, $200; Dean Cooper, $200; Ted Farnen, $101; Bill Graham, $225; Jefferson City Bank PAC, $200; Francis Vatterott, $300; Ashley Nichols, $101; and Judge Cotton Walker, $1,206.86.

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