The News Tribune asked the candidates in the Aug. 4 primary election for Cole County Division 5 associate circuit judge to answer the following question submitted by a reader.
Republican candidates for Division 5 associate circuit judge, listed in the order they will appear on the ballot, are Brian Stumpe, Todd Smith, Matt Willis and Tim Anderson.
The winner of the Republican primary will face uncontested Democratic candidate Scott Evans in the November general election.
The new associate judge will handle criminal arraignments, bonds and preliminary hearings but will also handle some civil cases as well. Identify each of the courts you have practiced in, the types of cases you specifically handled and how that experience has prepared you for this position.
Brian Stumpe: "I have worked on cases in various courts including municipal, associate, circuit, administrative, federal and the Missouri Supreme Court. I have handled cases involving civil litigation, criminal defense, criminal prosecution, civil rights, employment and administrative law.
"As a prosecutor, I handled over 80,000 cases. As judge, I have presided over approximately 8,000 cases, handled arraignments, set bonds, and dealt with changes on bond requirements instituted by the Missouri Supreme Court. As a defense attorney, I have had to deal with cases from speeding tickets to violent felonies. This requires going through the arraignment proceedings, bond hearings, preliminary hearings, trials and sentencing. As prosecutor, I had the sole responsibility of determining appropriate charges to be filed in individual cases.
"Over my career, I have tried nearly 2,000 cases. In civil law, I have handled cases from simple breach of contract, to complex civil class actions. Additionally, I have handled employment harassment and discrimination, and cases involving government bonding contracts. I have experience in election law and the impeachment of elected officials. My legal experience is broad and vast, and my time serving as judge has prepared me to be effective in the associate circuit court on day one."
Todd Smith: "My varied experience will serve me well as judge. As a young lawyer in the Attorney General's Office, I initially handled worker's compensation cases, but I spent the majority of my time in the Criminal Division responding to inmates' appeals. I practiced before all four of Missouri's state appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, where I won a unanimous decision in a drug case in 2014. During my tenure at a mid-size law firm, I had a statewide civil practice. I represented many different clients in a variety of cases. The highlight of that job was doing a week-long civil jury trial in Benton County where the firm's founder and I successfully defended a small business owner against a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. As an assistant prosecutor here in Jefferson City, I appeared in the Circuit Court of Cole County on a daily basis and worked on several felony jury trials. Notably, I did the bulk of the entire office's courthouse work when the other assistant prosecutors left during the transition between elected prosecutors. In my current solo practice, I primarily handle juvenile cases where I represent both minors and parents."
Matt Willis: "As a public defender, I represent people in criminal cases at the trial court level. Although my primary practice is in Cole, Miller and Moniteau counties, I have appeared in courts all across the state.
"I also have appellate court experience. While I was in law school, I filed appellate briefs at the Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. More recently, I filed habeas corpus petitions in post-conviction proceedings. One case in particular was appealed all the way up to the Missouri Supreme Court.
"The most important experience I have, however, is in trials. I've tried many cases in front of both judges and juries, and that requires a thorough knowledge of the Rules of Evidence and the Missouri and federal Constitution.
"My experience has taught me a number of things. First, I have the knowledge and experience to manage a busy schedule. Second, my jury trial experience would ensue legal decisions are correct and that justice is done fairly and equally. Third, representing people from all walks of life reminds me that each person in the courtroom (including victims of crime, litigants and members of the bar) is created in God's image and deserves to be treated respectfully."
Tim Anderson: "I have practiced in all levels of courts throughout Missouri during 30 years with the Attorney General's Office.
"Broadly, on the state level, I have practiced before (lowest to highest): municipal courts, associate circuit courts, circuit courts, the court of appeals (all three districts), and the Missouri Supreme Court. I've handled hundreds and hundreds of criminal cases (felonies and misdemeanors) and civil cases (all manner of tort actions), many from inception, through trial, to final appeal. It's important that voters understand the much greater complexity of cases as one moves from municipal, to associate circuit, to circuit courts — to say nothing of the appellate courts.
"On the federal level, I've practiced before magistrates, district courts (eastern and western), and the United States Court of Appeals — 8th Circuit, handling cases involving claims surrounding many of the amendments to our Constitution (the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th).
"In 'practicing' in all levels of courts, and before judges of every stripe, I've seen how excellent judges operate. I will use that practiced experience for the benefit of the people of Cole County."