Jackson County, Federal Courts Cancel Jury Trials

The Jackson County Circuit Court has cancelled all jury trials through the end of the year in response to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

“Every day is a new day in the fight against this pandemic,” Presiding Judge David M. Byrn said in a statement on Nov. 18. “Unfortunately, the recent significant spike in cases, hospitalizations, deaths and increasing concern about community spread has led the court to determine that jury trials should be cancelled through the end of the year.”

So far, the court has held five criminal jury trials, all in the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse in Independence. The court had been unable to resume trials in downtown Kansas City because of court employees’ COVID-19 cases.

Under the Missouri Supreme Court’s operational directives, the circuit court is required to move to either Operating Phase Zero or One, limiting in-person proceedings, if court employees contract COVID-19.

In circuits with multiple buildings, like Jackson County, some buildings may remain in a more advanced operating phase while others revert back to a more restricted phase.

In a news release, the court touted positive feedback it had received from jurors, noting that the majority of respondents said they felt safe during their service.

The court has implemented several health and safety procedures, from revamping the jury selection process to bringing in fewer jurors at a time to sanitizing public spaces multiple times a day.

“The court is pleased that our efforts to maintain the health and safety of citizens called to serve as jurors were successful and jurors felt safe while fulfilling their civic responsibility,” Byrn said. “However, changing circumstances have led to the decision to temporarily postpone additional jury trials.”

The court follows decisions to suspend trials in Missouri’s federal courts as well.

On Nov. 6, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri announced it would postpone all civil jury trials through the end of the year.

The court limited in-person proceedings to criminal hearings or trials in which an in-person appearance was necessary and closed in-person access to the clerk’s offices in St. Louis and Cape Girardeau. A subsequent order extended the closure of the clerk’s offices through Nov. 25.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District followed suit on Nov. 13, issuing an order continuing all civil and criminal jury selections and trials through Jan. 4. All courthouses will remain open to the public, however, under the current order.

 
By: Jessica Shumaker | Missouri Lawyers Weekly | molawyersmedia.com

Inmate Argues Chance of Parole Isn’t Enough

Jessica Hicklin, who was born James Hicklin, is serving a life sentence for a 1995 murder in Cass County that occurred during a meth transaction. Kansas City Star photo.

 

Four years ago, Missouri lawmakers offered a chance of release for inmates serving life without parole for crimes they committed as teens. The Missouri Supreme Court is now considering whether that law went far enough.

On Sept. 9, the court heard arguments from Jessica Hicklin, who was convicted of fatally shooting Sean Smith in 1995, when she was 16. Hicklin was sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole, the lowest sentence that Missouri law permitted at the time for first-degree murder.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that juvenile offenders cannot be given an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole, though a jury can still impose such a sentence based on the particular offender’s case. In 2016, the high court said in Montgomery v. Louisiana that Miller’s holding was retroactive to inmates already serving life sentences.

To address those holdings, the Missouri legislature in 2016 passed Senate Bill 590, which allows parole hearings for inmates previously sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles, so long as they have served at least 25 years in prison. The bill also added a wider range of sentencing provisions for those who are under 18 when they commit first-degree murder.

Anthony Rothert of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation, an attorney for Hicklin, noted that prior to the passage of that bill, the Missouri Supreme Court had ruled that such inmates had to be resentenced, and that anyone under 18 convicted of murder today would receive a sentence under the new law.

“This case raises the question about what happens to the small number of people caught in the middle,” he said.

Rothert argued that Hicklin’s original sentence is still in effect and is still unconstitutional, and therefore is void. But Andrew J. Crane, an assistant attorney general arguing on behalf of the state, said Hicklin essentially was asking the court to “harm her” by denying the potential parole hearing the revised state law provides. He added that crafting sentencing laws that comply with the constitution ultimately is the job of the legislature.

“It would be unprecedented and unwarranted for this court to depart from its precedent and take away the power of the General Assembly to retroactively help offenders, especially those with unconstitutional sentences like Ms. Hicklin had,” Crane said.

The judges repeatedly questioned Rothert about whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents already have determined that a parole hearing is an adequate solution for an inmate such as Hicklin.

“Does that then prevent us from saying, while maybe not ideal, it’s not unconstitutional, as you’re asking us to hold?” Judge Laura Denvir Stith said.

“Ms. Hicklin does not have parole eligibility today or even any promise that she ever will,” Rothert said. Assuming the legislature can replace a void sentence with a new sentence, he added, “What she has is the ability to ask after 25 years to become parole-eligible.”

Judge Zel M. Fischer repeatedly pressed Rothert on whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s Montgomery ruling said that states are not required to resentence prisoners already serving life without parole. Rothert disagreed.

“The constitutional right here is to have a Miller-compliant hearing,” he said.

The suit seeks a declaration that the 2016 bill is unconstitutional as applied to Hicklin. But several judges asked whether a habeas writ would be the more appropriate procedural route, as Hicklin is challenging her sentence. Rothert characterized the case as “a bit unique,” particularly because his client isn’t seeking immediate release from prison, as is typically the case in a habeas action.

The case drew multiple amicus briefs, including from the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center, which won a federal court order last year mandating that Missouri overhaul its parole process for juvenile life-without-parole inmates. An appeal of the ruling is being briefed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Separately, Joe Dandurand, the former Johnson County circuit judge who originally sentenced Hicklin, now agrees that sentence was unconstitutional. Dandurand, who now is the executive director of Legal Aid of Western Missouri, urged the court to order resentencing in a ​​court of law.

The case is Hicklin v. Schmitt et al., SC97692.

By Scott Lauck | Missouri Lawyers Media molawyersmedia.com​


From a February 12, 2018 story written by Matt Campbell for the Kansas City Star​:
 
Jessica Hicklin, who was born James Hicklin, was convicted of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of Sean Smith, who lived in a trailer in East Lynne, Mo. Hicklin, of Clinton, Mo., shot Smith in the face and the back when he could not pay for a crystal meth transaction. He (Hicklin) was 16 when he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2015, Hicklin changed her name and in 2016, filed a civil lawsuit alleging that deprivation of hormone therapy was unconstitutional.

​I​n 2018 U.S. District Judge Noelle C. Collins ordered the state to provide hormone therapy to Hicklin, who was also allowed to have permanent body hair removal and access to “gender affirming” toiletries

8th Circuit: Grand Juror Can’t Talk About Ferguson Case

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 14 that a grand juror who participated in the decision not to indict former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson can’t talk about her experiences.

The appeals court upheld a federal judge’s earlier ruling that Missouri laws swearing grand jurors to secrecy pass constitutional muster.

“Because Missouri’s grand jury secrecy laws survive even the most exacting scrutiny, Doe failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted,” Judge Raymond W. Gruender wrote for the court. Judges Roger L. Wollman and Bobby E. Shepherd concurred.

The plaintiff, referred to as a woman but otherwise unidentified, sought to talk about her experiences in 2014 when the grand jury declined to indict Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. In court documents, Doe claimed that then-St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch handled the case differently than other cases the grand jury heard.

In an unusual move, immediately after the grand jury chose not to indict Wilson, McCulloch released thousands of pages of transcripts from the proceedings. Evidence presented to the grand jurors appeared to support Wilson’s account that Brown attacked him and that the officer had shot the teen in self-defense.

The 8th Circuit, however, said McCulloch did not release any information about the jurors’ deliberations or identities. Gruender noted that grand jury secrecy dates back centuries in English common law.

“We think it thus beyond dispute that secrecy is an integral component to a functioning grand jury system and that once a state chooses to adopt it as a mechanism for screening indictments, the grand jury’s secrecy becomes an interest of the highest order because it is necessary for ‘upholding the administration of justice,’” Gruender wrote.

The court noted that it was an example of the “rare case” that survives scrutiny under the First Amendment’s broad protections for speech.

“If Doe were to speak on the quality of the evidence, the credibility of witnesses, or the deliberations of fellow jurors concerning the same, she would necessarily undermine the functioning of the grand jury,” Gruender wrote. “Witnesses in future cases may be less candid. The unindicted may face unending questions about culpability as juror after juror comes forward with their own view of the evidence, feeling pressured to respond either to challenge or defend Doe’s views, lest their collective decision be mischaracterized. And in future cases, jurors might hesitate to discuss matters candidly or to vote their conscience out of fear of future publicity.”

In a statement, Anthony Rothert of the ACLU of Missouri, which represented the grand juror, said he believed the ruling was wrong. He called grand juries “an unhelpful relic of a criminal justice system created to perpetuate white supremacy” and urged the state to limit their use.

“This allows unlimited prosecutorial manipulation of grand juries with no effective public oversight. It allow prosecutors to misrepresent what happens in these proceedings — or even lie — in order to manipulate public opinion,” Rothert said. “That is not in line with the spirit of the First Amendment.”

McCulloch lost the 2018 election to Wesley Bell, who ran on a platform of reform inspired by the Ferguson case. Bell announced last month that his office also would not open a case against Wilso​​n.

Bell also announced that his office plans to begin recording all grand jury proceedings in homicide cases, “so that all potential defendants get the same protections that Darren Wilson received.”

The 8th Circuit’s ruling follows a similar decision in 2017 from the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District. The grand juror’s federal claims were allowed to proceed after that ruling.

The case is Grand Juror Doe v. Bell, 19-1436.

By​ ​Scott Lauck ​| Missouri Lawyers Media ​molawyersmedia.com  

Southern District OKs Lengthy Sentence for ‘Board Bills’ Defendant

The Court of Appeals Southern District ruled June 30 that a judge didn’t abuse his discretion in sentencing a high-profile but low-income defendant to more than two years in jail on a variety of charges.

George Richey had argued on appeal that St. Clair County Associate Circuit Judge Jerry J. Rellihan entered the hefty sentence in retaliation for Richey’s role in a landmark 2019 ruling that forbade local courts from imposing jail “board bills” as court costs.

In State v. Richey, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, while counties can charge criminal defendants for the costs of their incarceration, circuit courts have no statutory authority to impose board bills as courts costs. Instead, counties must use a separate process to recover the money. As a result, defendants can’t be brought back into court monthly to review their payments for that debt, nor can the court put them back in jail for failure to pay it.

Six months before the March 2019 ruling, Richey had been arrested on separate charges of drunkenly threatening his neighbors. The following June, Rellihan acquitted Richey of the most serious of the three misdemeanors he faced and sentenced him to 180 days and 15 days on the remaining two charges.

Rellihan also revoked Richey’s probation for three unrelated convictions and ordered him to serve all of his sentences consecutively, totaling 755 days in jail.

Jedd C. Schneider, a public defender representing Richey, argued on appeal that Richey’s stiff sentence was imposed “because he dared to challenge being jailed for debt.” Schneider estimated that Richey would accrue $26,425 in jail board debt during this sentence, an amount he will be “unlikely to ever repay . . . during his lifetime.”

“Did the trial court learn nothing from the Supreme Court’s Richey opinion?” Schneider wrote in a brief. “The answer is seemingly no.”

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which defended the case on appeal, argued that Richey’s two new sentences were within the allowable range of punishment and that setting all of the sentences consecutively was at the judge’s discretion.

“The record amply supports the sentences given, including Defendant’s aggressive incorrigibility, lack of rehabilitation, and indifference to the law,” Gregory L. Barnes, an assistant attorney general, argued in a brief. “There is no evidence that the court took his previous appeal into account in determining to run the sentences consecutively.”

According to transcripts quoted in the briefs, Rellihan’s only comment on Richey’s sentencing was: “So he’s had many, many, many opportunities to become an active and good member of this community and he’s chosen not to.” Writing for the Southern District, Judge Daniel E. Scott, wrote that the trial judge “did not directly, or even indirectly, link Richey’s sentencing” to any right Richey had exercised or to the Supreme Court case.

The record, Scott added “forecloses Richey’s retaliation claim, and with it, all of Richey’s consecutive-sentencing challenges.” Chief Judge Jeffrey W. Bates and Judge Mary W. Sheffield concurred.

In an interview, Schneider said he doesn’t plan to seek further appeal in the case. However, he is separately representing Richey in an ongoing declaratory action seeking credit for Richey’s earlier improper incarceration for failure to pay the board bill. As part of the Richey ruling, the Supreme Court had thrown out a $2,275 bill Richey received after spending 65 days in jail for failure to comply with an order to pay an earlier board bill.

In addition, St. Louis-based ArchCity Defenders in February had filed a civil rights lawsuit on Richey’s behalf, alleging that St. Clair County’s practices amounted to a “modern-day debtors’ scheme” to raise revenue. The suit, which had been removed to federal court, was voluntarily dismissed on May 6. Corrigan L. Lewis, the ArchCity attorney who filed the case, couldn’t be reached for comment.

That suit also has alleged that the consecutive sentences were retaliatory. At the time of dismissal, Rellihan, one of the defendants in the suit, had argued that judicial immunity protected his actions. He also pointed to the then-pending appeal in the Southern District, arguing that it gave Richey an adequate remedy at law for “any rulings or allegedly unlawful actions taken in his criminal case.”

The appeal is State v. Richey, SD36153. The declaratory action is Richey v. St. Clair County et al., 20SR-CC00008.

 
By Scott Lauck | Missouri Lawyers Media molawyersmedia.com

Court OKs Ruling Denying Defender Caseload Relief

A Missouri appeals court has set a high bar for public defenders to overcome when appealing circuit-court denials of their motions for caseload relief.

In a June 9 ruling, a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District adopted an abuse of discretion standard of review for cases stemming from a 2013 law that provides a mechanism for district defenders to ask circuit court presiding judges for caseload relief for individual attorneys.

Mary Fox, director of the Missouri State Public Defender System, said she anticipates the standard of review being a key part of a motion to transfer the case to the Missouri Supreme Court.

“I think if the statute is going to have value to the state, there would be value in getting a decision from the Supreme Court as to how they would like to see it put into practice,” she said in an interview.

Jackson County District Defender Ruth Petsch had sought to overturn Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge David M. Byrn’s order denying caseload relief for two individual attorneys in her office, David Wiegert and Walter Stokely, as well as her office as a whole.

She also argued that the 2013 law is unconstitutional, asserting that a provision that prohibits public defenders from declining to take on new cases because they already have too many to ethically handle is at odds with attorney ethics rules that require attorneys to provide effective assistance of counsel for their clients.

Under the new standard of review, appeals courts would largely defer to presiding judges and place the burden on public defenders to show that the judges abused their discretion in reaching their decisions.

The ruling also closes the door to Petsch and district defenders across the state who seek to raise concerns about the law’s constitutionality using the process set out in the caseload-relief law.

Since 2017, Petsch has sought caseload relief from the Jackson County Circuit Court under Section 600.063 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. Following an evidentiary hearing in 2019, Byrn denied relief, finding that neither the individual attorneys nor the wider office were too overburdened to accept new cases while providing effective representation to existing clients.

Before addressing Petsch’s arguments, the court panel first had to decide the applicable standard of review — an issue of first impression.

The parties disagreed on what the correct standard should be. Petsch argued the court should review Byrn’s factual findings for competent and substantial evidence and that de novo review was appropriate for the application of law to the facts, or to interpreting the statute.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, however, contended that appeals courts should affirm presiding judges’ decisions if factual findings are supported by competent and substantial evidence and to defer to the presiding judges’ credibility findings.

The Western District concluded that the case-relief law describes a procedure for the exercise of a court’s inherent authority and responsibility to manage its dockets.

“As such, and consistent with appellate review of other trial court rulings involving the exercise of discretion pursuant to inherent authority, orders issued by a presiding judge following a section 600.063 conference are presumed to be correct, are reviewed for an abuse of discretion, and the burden of showing an abuse of discretion is on the appellant,” Judge Cynthia L. Martin wrote in the opinion.

Petsch argued that Byrn erred in refusing to declare provisions of the caseload-relief law subordinate to the Rules of Professional Conduct and that the law was unconstitutional as applied if it was interpreted to limit the ability of public defenders to decline or delay appointments in order to comply with ethics rules.

The court ruled that in a proceeding under the caseload-relief statute, a district defender cannot ask a presiding judge for a declaratory judgment about the constitutional validity of the statute.

“The District Defender remains free to challenge the constitutionality of sections 600.062 and 600.063 in any other proceeding where those issues can be properly raised,” Martin said. “But the constitutionality of sections 600.062 and 600.063 cannot be raised in a section 600.063 motion, nor determined by a presiding judge following a section 600.063 conference.”

Judges Lisa White Hardwick and Thomas N. Chapman agreed.

Petsch and her attorney, John C. Aisenbrey of Stinson, declined to comment. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office also declined to comment.

The case is In re: Area 16 Public Defender Office III v. Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, WD82962.

By Jessica Shumaker | Missouri Lawyers Media molawyersmedia.com

Missouri Supreme Court Issues Directives for Reopening Courts

The Missouri Supreme Court has issued additional guidance for circuit courts as they navigate resuming jury trials in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court issued an order supplementing its May 4 order and operational directives for gradually reopening the state’s courthouses to in-person proceedings.

In the new order, the court said that the safety of jurors, visitors, court personnel, parties and attorneys is paramount, and no jurisdiction may resume jury proceedings without first undergoing sufficient planning and preparation.

“The resumption of jury proceedings too early would not only risk the health of participants, but it could also undermine public confidence in the courts and damage the integrity of trial by jury, a cornerstone of our justice system,” the order said.

The Supreme Court pointed to new research indicating that COVID-19 may be spread through the air by normal breathing and conversation in addition to the spread of droplets from sneezes and coughs.

“Therefore, every reasonable precaution should be taken in the context of jury proceedings,” the order said.

Under the new guidelines, in order to resume grand or petit jury proceedings under any operating phase, presiding judges first must determine whether their circuits have the proper facilities and equipment in place to conduct jury proceedings in compliance with social distancing protocols, local restrictions on occupancy rates and other recommended health and safety strategies.

Jury proceedings are not generally anticipated to resume before a court implements Phase Three of the Supreme Court’s operating phases, the order said. The order noted that the earliest a court could enter Phase Three under its requirements is June 13.

The order said courts should take efforts to educate the general public about the importance of jury service and the steps the courts are taking to ensure the safety and well-being of potential jurors as jury trials resume.

The Supreme Court also recommended that courts suspend warrants for jurors who fail to appear when summoned and to suspend the execution of warrants previously issued for that reason until after the pandemic subsides.

Instead, the court recommended that circuits follow up with non-responders with a second notice and second summons. Courts may offer deferral in place of a warrant.

Additionally, the order recommended that courts should be capable of seating jurors 6 feet apart, limiting the number of potential jurors involved in jury selection and ensuring that members of the public may view public court proceedings.

Molawyersmedia.com

AG Schmitt Partners with Attorneys to Prosecute Rioters

Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt is partnering with U.S. Attorneys to prosecute demonstrators who commit acts of violence during protests in Missouri.

In a Monday news release, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office said it will give the power of prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern and Western Districts allowing these attorney’s offices to prosecute people who “who commit acts of violence and rioting in Missouri.”

This includes prosecuting individuals who were charged and arrested by federal authorities over the weekend in St. Louis.

“George Floyd’s death is tragic and heartbreaking. Missourians have the right to protest peacefully, and should be able to exercise that right in a safe manner as thousands have done across the country over the last few days,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “However, those who seek to use these protests to destroy property and commit acts of violence, including those who come to Missouri from out of state, will be held accountable for their actions by federal and state authorities. Those acts of destruction and violence will not be tolerated.”
 
Tim Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, stands with the right to peacefully protest. But, he noted that those who choose to take part in acts of violence will be prosecuted.

“Those who cross the line from lawful protestors to criminal agitators will be arrested and prosecuted,” Garrison said. “We are working alongside our state and local partners to maintain order and public safety.”

Similarly, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Jeff Jensen said the state will continue to serve Missourians by prosecuting those who violate laws by committing acts of violence.

Additionally, Jensen said prosecution will come for people who cross state lines to participate in violent protests.

“If you travel across state lines to participate in a riot or threaten the safety of our community and its property, you will be prosecuted,” Jensen said.

By Megan Smaltz | KRCG TV

Missouri Judiciary Launches Interactive Tool as Courts Reopen

The Missouri Courts’ main COVID-19 alerts page has been redeveloped to enable users to determine quickly the phase in which a court is operating as courts begin the process of reopening under the Supreme Court of Missouri’s May 4 order and administrative guidelines, which became effective May 16.

Circuit court and appellate court information will be available using the drop-down menus or the interactive maps (which toggle between circuit/county and appellate district views). Clicking on any county or district will take users to a page with the court’s notices and orders. The map is followed by a searchable, sortable table for municipal division information. If there is specific information available for a particular municipal division, it will be included in the table. Otherwise, the municipal division may be covered by a countywide order. Clicking on the hyperlinked name of the municipal division will take users to a page with the division’s notices and orders.

Both the maps and the table are color-coded according to operating phase. A key to the operating phases also is included on the COVID alerts page. Pursuant to the Court’s order and administrative guidelines, all courts currently are operating in Phase Zero; beginning May 16, they could begin moving to Phase One operations if they met the Court’s guidelines.

The Missouri Courts’ COVID alerts page remains available at https://www.courts.mo.gov/pandemic/. The new design went live May 16.

Missouri Supreme Court Issues Directive to Resume Court Activities

The Supreme Court of Missouri has issued an order and operational directives, effective May 16, to help courts statewide establish localized plans – recognizing the varying community health safeguards and court dockets, facilities and staffing levels across the state – for easing COVID-19 restrictions on in person proceedings. Since mid-March, the state’s courts have been operating under precautionary measures to help combat the spread of the disease while ensuring they remain open to conduct business as necessary to carry out their core, constitutional functions.

Under the order, activities in all appellate and circuit courts – including all associate, family, juvenile, municipal and probate divisions – will continue to be restricted in some respect, and courts are encouraged to use all available technologies to conduct activities remotely to limit the number of in-person proceedings conducted in courthouses. The order authorizes judges presiding over civil matters to waive, for good cause shown, deadlines or time limitations set by state or local court rule (but not those set by a statutory or constitutional provision) and directs courts to adopt measures to ensure timely filing by self represented litigants (who lack access to Missouri’s electronic filing system).

The order further enacts operational directives establishing uniform “gateway criteria” for Missouri courts to begin resuming – gradually as local conditions permit – activities previously suspended. Under the operational directives, also effective May 16, to help make paramount the health and welfare of litigants, witnesses, victims, jurors, attorneys, judicial employees and other individuals involved in judicial proceedings in determining whether a courthouse is ready to progress through four defined operating phases, local courts:

  • Should monitor local circumstances and conditions on a regular basis.
  • Should work with local health officials, law enforcement officers, children’s division personnel, juvenile officers, prosecutors and public defenders, and local attorneys in adapting their plans for moving through operating phases to local health conditions.
  • May move to a new operating phase only after being in the prior operating phase at least 14 calendar days, with no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the court facility and improving COVID-19 health conditions in the community during that time.
  • May revert to a prior operating phase immediately when required by local conditions and circumstances.


Regardless of the phase in which they may be operating, local courts should:

  • Allow (or, in phase three, consider allowing) “vulnerable individuals” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to postpone their required presence in a court proceeding.
  • Follow social-distancing protocols and consider requiring the use of masks or other face coverings.
  • Clean and disinfect common areas and consider providing hand sanitizers and wipes.

The Court intends to issue further operational directives for conducting grand and petit jury proceedings as pandemic and health conditions improve.

Governor Parson Makes Court Appointments

Governor Mike Parson ​appointed two prosecuting attorneys and two judges on Friday, May 1.

He ​appointed Kelly W. Puckett as the Grundy County ​Prosecuting Attorney​ and William Lynch as the Newton County Prosecuting Attorney.

Puckett has served as the interim prosecuting attorney for Grundy County since January 2019. He holds bachelor’s degree in legal studies from Missouri Western State University and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University School of Law. 
 
Lynch has served as the interim prosecuting attorney since the Honorable Judge Jake Skouby took office as an Associate Circuit Judge in the 40th Judicial Circuit.​ ​Lynch holds bachelor’s degree from Missouri Southern State University and a master’s degree and Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Gov​.​ Parson ​also ​appointed the Honorable Scott A. Lipke as Circuit Judge for the 32nd Judicial Circuit​ and he ​appointed Alan Beussink as Associate Circuit Judge for the 32nd  Judicial Circuit.
 
Lipke​ will fill the Circuit Judge vacancy created by the appointment of the Honorable Michael Gardner to​ the​ Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.​ ​Lipke, of Jackson, is currently serving as an Associate Circuit Judge of the 32nd Judicial Circuit. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, and a Juris Doctorate from Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana.
 
Beussink will fill the Associate Circuit Judge vacancy created by the departure of the Honorable Scott. E. Thomsen.​ ​Beussink, of Leopold, currently serves as a partner at the law firm Whiffen and Beussink. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.