Matt Blunt whined about the Missouri Non-Partisan Judicial Selection Plan. I think its wonderful, it even gave Blunt the opportunity to pick a judge with Republican roots for the Supreme Court that was good enough for both Ashcroft and Bond - Judge Patricia Breckenridge. Blunt wanted everything from applicants from college transcripts to their favorite supreme court opinion.
As you know, the Missouri Plan is only for St. Louis, Jackson County and Clay County trial judges and all the appellate judges in the state. It does not apply to other trial judges throughout our state - they have partisan elections. If someone quits, then the Governor appoints a replacement and that judge stands for a vote of the people at the next election.
Judge J. Miles Sweeney resigned in Springfield, Greene County. Blunt appointed his replacement. The Springfield News-leader - following Blunt's call for openness and light in the appointment of judges - asked for all documents Blunt reviewed to make his selection of the new judge. Mr. Messenger at the News-Leader got this thoughtful response.
"Dear Mr. Messenger: This is in response to your September 20, 2007, request for records under the Missouri Sunshine Law. Enclosed is Judge Sweeney's resignation letter. Other materials concerning Mr. Bob Lawson's appointment, interview notes on other applicants, and any other material concerning the appointment are closed for privacy concerns under sections 610.010 and 610.021 (3), RSMo. This position is not a lifetime appointment like the appellate courts (with retention elections); Mr. Lawson will face a partisan election in less than a year. Materials advertising the position would likely be open records, but the governor's office does not advertise for local judicial appointments. We would advise you to consult with the local officials for their steps to advertise the position. We received a number of applications and a great number of recommendations for applicants, so it is our assumption, based on the interest in the position that our office received before and after judge Sweeney's resignation, that the pending vacancy was well known among members of the local bar. Sincerely, Henry T. Herschel, General Counsel."
Nothing like a little hypocrisy to stir up the base.