New Supreme Court judge discusses family, faith
Q. Are you surprised by this opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court?
A. The opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court of Missouri is both a dream come true and an answer to prayer.
Q. What are some of the influences in your life that have shaped you?
A. My father is a great influence in my life. He is an honest, hardworking man who always has made time for others, especially those who have special needs. He has a true servant’s heart, and that is a great example for me.
Q. How have these shaped your view of the law?
A. My father’s example of being nonjudgmental and giving everyone a fair shake really served me well as I was practicing law and when I became a trial court judge, and it will continue to be a fine example as I begin my new duties as a Supreme Court judge.
Q. What do you think are the most important qualities you bring to the bench?
A. In light of the fact that the vacancy I filled was created by the advancement to the federal bench of Judge Limbaugh – a former prosecutor and trial court judge – I think it is important that the person who replaced him have trial experience, both as a practicing lawyer and a judge.
Q. What do you want to be the characteristics people will use to describe your decisions?
A. I plan to approach every case fairly and impartially, and I want people to believe that my opinions reflect the two principles that are carved in stone on the face of the Supreme Court Building: (1) to declare the law, not make it; and (2) where there is a right, there is a remedy.
Q. How have your experiences in the law in northwest Missouri influenced you?
A. I practiced law in rural northwest Missouri for almost 18 years and handled a wide variety of cases that necessarily included representing a wide variety of people with varying personalities and backgrounds and economic circumstances. I hope these experiences in the trenches of rural Missouri will give people confidence in me, knowing that someone who has lived and practiced law under circumstances similar to theirs is evaluating their cases.
Q. Would you say you bring some northwest Missouri common sense to the bench?
A. I try to bring a practical and common-sense approach to everything I do.
Q. What are some of the most critical issues expected to face the court?
A. As a practicing attorney and a trial judge, it was always my philosophy that there were no unimportant cases, because in all cases – no matter what is at stake – real people are involved, and their case is important to them.
Q. What is your personal testimony of faith?
A. In my personal life, I do not lean on my own understanding but have faith in my savior, Jesus Christ, and believe in the power, wisdom and gift of the Holy Spirit.
Q. What role does faith play in a Supreme Court judge’s responsibilities?
A.This question reminds me of a pledge card I signed while teaching Sunday School in April 1990, which I have read weekly from that time. I am attaching a copy of that card for you (as seen below).