GOP gubernatorial candidate seeks to curb trial lawyer influence

Chris Rizo Sep. 29, 2008, 11:00am

Kenny Hulshof (R)

Jay Nixon (D)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline)-Attorneys should be taken off a panel that nominates candidates for the Missouri Supreme Court and be replaced by retired judges, the Republican candidate for governor says.

The move proposed by Kenny Hulshof would overhaul the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan by increasing the governor's control over who sits on the state's highest court. He says by taking lawyers off the panel, plaintiffs' attorney undue influence in the Show Me State's courts would be diminished.

Hulshof noted that 19 of the last 21 nominees for the Supreme Court have been Democrats, and four of the last six nominees have been members of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.

"The Missouri Plan was designed to keep politics out of our courtrooms. Unfortunately, that isn't what we're seeing today," Hulshof said. "Trial attorneys are stacking the deck in an attempt to tilt the scales in their favor. This is bad for job creators, doctors, and anyone else upon whom the trial lawyers set their sights. It's time to restore fairness and balance to the Missouri Plan."

Currently, a seven-member panel, which includes the state chief justice and three private lawyers, nominate candidates for the Supreme Court and the state appeals courts.

Hulshof says the governor should also have the ability to reject nominees sent to him by the Appellate Judicial Commission and be able to choose his own appointment that would be subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

"Disorder in the courts is preventing job growth in Missouri," Hulshof said. "A state's legal system is a key factor for potential employers when they are considering a state for business. We can take commonsense steps to clean up our legal system and make our state more attractive for business."

Hulshof, who is running against Attorney General Jax Nixon, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, currently represents Missouri's 9th Congressional District.

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