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Missouri appellate judge Kelly Broniec appointed to state Supreme Court

Newly-appointed Missouri Supreme Court Judge Kelly Broniec stands at a podium at the Missouri Capitol. To the left of her is Gov. Mike Parson.
Sarah Kellogg
St. Louis Public Radio
Newly appointed Missouri Supreme Court Judge Kelly Broniec speaks to reporters on Tuesday. Broniec currently serves as the chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District. She will be sworn in as a state Supreme Court judge within 30 days.

Kelly Broniec, chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals’ Eastern District, will be the next judge on the Missouri Supreme Court.

Gov. Mike Parson appointed Broniec on Tuesday. Her addition to the state’s highest court comes nearly three years after Parson put Broniec on the Eastern District bench.

“I will do my best to bring common sense, practicality and respect for the rule of law to my work at the court, along with the important values of humility, kindness and hard work that I learned from my grandparents,” Broniec said.

Broniec, 52, will be sworn in within 30 days. She will replace Judge George W. Draper III, who retired last month just before turning 70, which is the statutory age for retirement for the court.

Parson said he was impressed by Broniec’s work ethic.

“Her record shows that she is a fair enforcer of the law, interprets the law as written and leaves legislating to the General Assembly. We look forward to her successful tenure on our state's highest court for years to come,” Parson said.

The appointment of Broniec to the court creates a women-led majority. Broniec called it a special opportunity.

“I come from a small town, and to have this opportunity to serve on the court with three other women and knowing that we'll be one of only 11 states in the country to have a majority of women on the state's highest court is quite an honor,” Broniec said.

Parson said identity politics did not play a part in his appointment decision.

“I guess I would like to say sometimes, ‘Yeah, I did it because the judge is a lady.’ But the truth of it is it's not,” Parson said. “I picked her because of her background, where she comes from and who she is. And so if all those chips fall into place, and there's more women on the court, there'll be more women on the court. But they’ve got to earn their way to it,” Parson said.

That majority could be short-lived as Judge Patricia Breckenridge is also set to retire in October.

Broniec was one of three candidates submitted to Parson for consideration by the nonpartisan Appellate Judicial Commission. Prior to serving on the Missouri Court of Appeals, she served as an associate Circuit judge for Montgomery County for almost 15 years. Broniec was appointed to that position by then-Gov. Matt Blunt in 2006.

Broniec was the Montgomery County prosecuting attorney from 1999 to 2006.

On what he’s looking for when he appoints a replacement for Breckenridge, Parson said he wants candidates who will enforce the law.

“Picking a lot of these judges I've picked, it's not always about politics, by no means. It's about who really knows it and who will go in there and read the law, enforce the law the way it’s written, not on their opinions,” Parson said. “And I think that's one of the things you look at, and I look at judges that I feel like will do that.”

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.