© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

48 judges face retention elections in November - 47 get passing marks from the Bar

s_falkow | Flickr

Nearly every voter in Missouri is aware of the contests for president and governor.

But there are also 48 trial and appellate judges who are hoping to remain on the bench through retention elections. 

Every year, the Missouri Bar Association's judicial performance review committee releases its evaluations of the judges standing for retention. This year, rather than recommending that judges be retained or not, the committee asked its members whether they believed each judge met basic performance standards like appropriate courtroom demeanor, preparation for trial and neutrality. 

Forty-seven of the 48 judges on the ballot in November received passing marks. The one who didn't? Judge Dale Hood, an associate circuit judge in St. Louis County.

Lawyers who practiced in front of Judge Hood gave him low marks on courtroom demeanor and neutrality, though the judge did receive high marks from jurors who decided cases in his courtroom. The review committee recommended in 2008 and 2012 that Judge Hood not be retained, though he kept his seat each time. Retention requires a simple majority.

Judge Hood is the target of a low-key grassroots campaign by Citizens for Competent Judges. Hood presided over the 2007 divorce trial of an organizer, Rich Feldmann, who said he could go on for hours about the problems he had with the judge's performance.

But, Feldmann said, his opposition to Hood isn't personal.

"If everybody else was at 5 [percent]  and 10 [percent], he wouldn’t stand out," Feldmann said. "He stands out as a perfect example as someone who should not be retained. And if someone else is in that same position, they should be also pointed out to the voting public."

Judge Hood did not return a phone call for comment.

Since retention elections began in Missouri in the 1940s, just two judges have been voted off the bench.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.