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6-12-13


by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Under the Missouri Constitution, all judges other than municipal judges shall retire at the age of 70 years.

That birthday is coming soon for Platte County Circuit Court Judge Abe Shafer IV. He will turn 70 years old on July 18.

Shafer isn’t the only Platte County Circuit Court judge who will reach the mandatory retirement age this year. Platte County Circuit Court Judge Lee Hull hits that milestone on Sept. 1.

The process of choosing Shafer’s successor is about to begin. The process to replace Hull won’t be far behind.

The Sixth Circuit Judicial Commission has announced it is accepting applications for Shafer’s post in Division 1 of the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Platte County).

The Missouri Constitution, Article V, Section 21, requires that a circuit judge be at least 30 years old, licensed to practice law in Missouri, a citizen of the United States for at least 10 years, a qualified voter of Missouri for the three years preceding selection, and a resident of the Sixth Judicial Circuit for at least one year.

Nominations should be submitted to Terence G. Lord, clerk of the court, Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District, 1300 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.

Lord’s email address is terence.lord@courts.mo.gov and his phone number is 816-889-3600.

The commission must receive all completed applications for the circuit judge vacancy by 4:30 p.m. on July 10.

The commission will then meet on July 19 to conduct public interviews of the applicants and select a panel of three nominees for the vacancy.

Following the announcement of the three nominees, Gov. Jay Nixon will have 60 days to appoint one of the three nominees as circuit judge in Division 1.

Members of the commission who will choose the panel of three nominees are James Edward Welsh, chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District; Scott Campbell and Keith Hicklin, both of whom are attorneys based in Platte County; and lay members Judy Stokes and David Barth.

Applications and instructions are available on the website www.courts.mo.gov under the quick link for “judicial vacancies.”

Shafer was appointed as circuit judge in the 6th Judicial Circuit in October 1999. Prior to that time, he served as magistrate judge and associate circuit judge in Platte County. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his law degree from the University of Kansas.

Before his appointment to the court, Shafer spent many years in the private practice of law. He also served one term as prosecuting attorney of Platte County. He is a member of The Missouri Bar, the American Bar Association, and the Platte County Bar Association.

His community interests include the Weston Christian Church and the Weston Historical Museum.

According to showmecourts.org, a web site the Missouri Bar produces as part of its mission to increase the public's understanding of Missouri's courts and judiciary, Shafer has received positive performance evaluations from attorneys.

Attorneys who responded to survey questions rated Shafer on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing “not at all” and 5 representing “completely.”

Shafer received a rating above 4.0 in all categories, which is an indication that the attorneys have substantial respect for the judge’s skill and professionalism.

Shafer received his highest scores for maintaining and requiring proper order and decorum in the courtroom (4.54), efficiently managing his docket (4.44), demonstrating appropriate demeanor on the bench (4.38), being competent in the law (4.38) and effectively using pretrial procedure to narrow and define the issues (4.38).

Shafer’s lower scores were for giving reasons for his rulings (4.11), clearly explaining all oral decisions (4.14), basing decisions on evidence and arguments (4.16), and weighing all evidence fairly and impartially before rendering a decision (4.21).

The Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee reviewed survey responses submitted by Judge Shafer’s peers. He received his highest scores for being competent in the law, understanding the rules and procedure of evidence, basing his decisions on evidence and arguments, being prepared for hearings and trials, being fair and impartial toward each side of the case, and not being affected by partisan considerations.

The committee also reviewed survey responses submitted by jurors who were seated in jury trials before Judge Shafer. Jurors who responded to survey questions gave Judge Shafer a perfect rating in all categories, including acting with patience and dignity, clearly explaining court procedure, legal issues and the responsibilities of the jury, maintaining control over the courtroom, and being well-prepared for the case.

The committee also reviewed three written opinions submitted by Judge Shafer that dealt with criminal and civil issues and found that the opinions appear to be well-reasoned and clearly written, and they appear to fulfill all of the necessary legal requirements.

HULL’S INFORMATION

Judge Owens Lee Hull, Jr. was appointed circuit judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit in August 1998. Hull has served as presiding judge of Platte County since 1998. Prior to that time, he served as a magistrate judge and an associate circuit judge in Platte County beginning in February 1978 and served continuously until his appointment as circuit judge.
He received both his Bachelor of Science degree in public administration and his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Before his appointment to the court, Hull served as prosecuting attorney and as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Platte County.

He is a member of The Missouri Bar, the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association, and the Platte County Bar Association. His community interests include the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Weston Christian Church, and the Weston Historical Museum.

According to showmecourts.org, Hull has received positive marks in performance evaluations.

Attorneys who responded to survey questions rated Judge Hull on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing “not at all” and 5 representing “completely.” Judge Hull received a rating above 4.0 in all categories, which is an indication that the attorneys have substantial respect for the Judge’s skill and professionalism.

Judge Hull received his highest scores for maintaining and requiring proper order and decorum in the courtroom (4.67), efficiently managing his docket (4.65), being prepared for hearings and trials (4.57) and treating people who appear before him equally (4.53).

Judge Hull’s lower scores were for clearly explaining all oral decisions (4.08), giving reasons for his rulings (4.08), weighing all evidence fairly and impartially before rendering a decision (4.22) and allowing parties latitude to present their arguments (4.23).

The Performance Evaluation Committee reviewed survey responses submitted by Judge Hull’s peers. Judge Hull received a perfect score of 5.00 in all categories.

The committee also reviewed survey responses submitted by jurors who were seated in jury trials before Hull. Jurors who responded to survey questions gave Hull an almost unanimously favorable rating in all categories, including acting with patience and dignity, clearly explaining court procedure, legal issues and the responsibilities of the jury, maintaining control over the courtroom, and being well-prepared for the case.

The committee also reviewed three written opinions submitted by Judge Hull that dealt with issues of criminal, civil and juvenile law and found that the opinions were well-reasoned and clearly written, and they appear to fulfill all of the necessary legal requirements.