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Sunday, August 19, 2007


In an open letter addressed to the “citizens of Missouri,” the Appellate Judicial Commission on Aug. 7 responded to unprecedented attacks concerning its traditionally secret process for nominating candidates to fill vacancies on the Missouri Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Gov. Matt Blunt and others have been critical of the commission for refusing to turn over certain records relating to its selection of three finalists to fill an open seat on the Supreme Court.

The commission cited a Supreme Court rule that makes the commission’s records and proceedings confidential. Critics, however, contend the court’s rule is trumped by the state’s Sunshine Law, which requires records and meetings of governmental bodies to be accessible to the public with limited exceptions.

The commission’s open letter came hours after state Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, held a news conference on the steps of the Supreme Court Building to call for more openness in the vetting of judicial nominees. Lembke said he will sponsor legislation next year to specifically require the commission’s proceeding to be open under the Sunshine Law.

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