Former state Supreme Court judge joins staff of St. Louis circuit attorney
A recently retired member of the Missouri Supreme Court is going back to the place his legal career started.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gabe Gore announced Tuesday that George Draper will join his office Oct. 23 in the newly created job of chief training officer.
“Judge Draper’s impeccable character and legal experience will be a great asset for this office,” Gore said. “He will be an invaluable resource to me and my senior team.”
Draper, 70, worked as an assistant circuit attorney from 1984 until 1994, when he was appointed an associate circuit judge of the 22nd Circuit in St. Louis. He spent the next 29 years on the bench, including 12 years as a Supreme Court judge, before retiring in August.
Michael Ware, an assistant circuit attorney handling general felonies, joined the office a year ago Tuesday. He said he and his colleagues were happily surprised when Gore announced Draper’s hiring to his staff.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to have someone with that breadth of knowledge in our office,” Ware said.
He said Draper's new role sends a message that Gore is serious about helping younger lawyers develop their skills, “and doing his utmost to make it so this office runs perfectly.”
The St. Louis Circuit Court said in a statement it “wishes Judge George Draper success in his new role mentoring prosecutors at the Circuit Attorney's Office.”
Gore took over as circuit attorney May 30 after the resignation of Kim Gardner. He was able to persuade several experienced prosecutors to return to the office but said he is also hoping to recruit a number of young attorneys.
Draper said he hesitated only briefly before accepting Gore’s offer.
“This office has a really great history,” Draper said. “My father was chief trial assistant here under Tom Eagleton. My wife and I got started here. My concern is that I have something to actually offer. I hope I do.”
Draper’s wife, Judy Preddy Draper, was an associate circuit judge in St. Louis County until 2018, when voters decided not to retain her.
Although it’s been nearly three decades since Draper appeared in a courtroom as a prosecutor, he said his recent time on the state Supreme Court made him aware that philosophies about prosecution had changed.
“You also have to remember that I have a daughter who was a prosecutor in St. Louis County, so I heard of a few of those changes around the dinner table,” he said.