Missouri Supreme Court
Missouri voters have approved changes in the state's constitution to give the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction - the sole legal power to hear - five types of cases on appeal. Pursuant to Article V, Section 3 of the Missouri Constitution, these cases involve:
- The validity of a United States statute or treaty.
- The validity of a Missouri statute or constitutional provision.
- The state's revenue laws.
- Challenges to a statewide elected official's right to hold office.
- Imposition of the death penalty.
Unless their case involves one of those five issues, people who want a trial court's decision reviewed must appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals. Most of these cases involve routine legal questions and end there. The Court of Appeals is divided geographically into the Eastern District, Western District and Southern District.
Certain cases, however, can be transferred to the Supreme Court - at the Court's discretion - if it determines that a question of general interest or importance is involved, that the laws should be re-examined, or that the lower court's decision conflicts with an earlier appellate decision. This is similar to the process the United States Supreme Court uses in accepting cases.
Rulings on ballot measures
|Year||Ballot measure||Legal issue||Name of case||Court ruling|
|1990||-||Single-subject rule||Missourians to Protect Initiative Process v. Blunt||Struck initiative from ballot|
Judges of the court are selected through the non-partisan plan, nationally known as the Missouri Plan. Under the plan, the Appellate Judicial Commission submits the names of three applicants to the Governor. If the Governor fails to make a nomination, the Commission shall make the appointment. Once the judge has served for at least a year, he or she will be placed on the general election ballot for a retention vote of the people. If retained, judges serve a term of 12 years.
The famous case of Dred Scott v. Sandford (1856) came to the United States Supreme Court after a decision made by the Supreme Court of Missouri.
With the appointment of Patricia Breckenridge in September 2007, there is now a full allocation of seven judges on the court. The judges rotate the two-year term of Chief Justice among themselves based on seniority. The Chief Justice is Constitutionally empowered to preside over the court and to be the "chief administrative officer" of the state judicial system.
- Laura Denvir Stith Chief Justice
- William Ray Price, Jr.
- Stephen Limbaugh, Jr.
- Michael Wolff
- Richard Teitelman
- Mary Rhodes Russell
- Patricia Breckenridge
Clerk of the Supreme Court
The clerk of the Supreme Court is responsible for a wide range of duties, including the supervision of the internal administrative function of the Court itself as well as the planning and administrative direction of the Missouri Judicial Conference, the organization of all the state's judges. The current clerk is Thomas F. Simon.