Retain well-qualified judges in Kansas, Missouri
The Kansas City Star
Voters throughout the Kansas City region will have a chance to weigh in on whether to retain statewide and local judges on Nov. 6.
This task will be easier in Missouri, where the state bar conducts extensive performance evaluations of judges who are selected through the nonpartisan selection plan.
The evaluations are based on surveys of lawyers and jurors who are familiar with a judge’s skills, demeanor, opinions and decisions. After compiling that information, a committee issues a recommendation on whether or not a judge should be retained. The results are posted online at showmecourts.org and in print.
Kansas has made similar helpful evaluations available in the past, but is not doing so this year. The Kansas Commission on Judicial Performance unfortunately has not received funding for two years.
It is a service to voters to provide objective information on judges, based in part by the people most familiar with their work — lawyers and jurors. Either the state should return money for the surveys or the Kansas and Johnson County bar associations should find a way to fund them.
In Missouri, voters should retain Supreme Court Judge George W. Draper and three judges from the western district of the state Court of Appeals — Thomas H. Newton, Gary D. Witt and Cynthia L. Morton. All scored high on their performance critiques.
For the same reason, Jackson County voters should* retain* the five circuit court judges and three associate circuit judges on the ballot. Clay County voters will find two circuit judges and one associate circuit judge on the ballot and should vote yes to retain them. Platte County voters should retain the two circuit judges and two associate circuit judges who are up for retention.
We also recommend retention of Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy L. Moritz and six Court of Appeals judges. While the lack of information is a hindrance, the courts and judges have conducted themselves well.
The same goes for the 10 district judges and three magistrates up for retention in Johnson County.
Wyandotte County elects its district judges, but none of the seven judges up for election has opponents.