A seven-member commission on Tuesday nominated three appeals court judges to fill the vacancy on the Missouri Supreme Court left by Judge George W. Draper III, who retired earlier this month.
After interviewing more than 20 applicants, the Appellate Judicial Commission unanimously selected Kelly C. Broniec, chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District in St. Louis; Michael E. Gardner, who also serves as a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District in St. Louis; and Ginger K. Gooch, a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District in Springfield.
Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has the power to appoint one of the three judges to fill the vacancy left by Draper within 60 days. If he does not make a pick, the commission will select the appointee.
The appointment will mark the second time that Parson has named a judge to the state’s highest court. He did so in 2021 when he appointed Judge Robin Ransom. Later this year, the Republican governor will make his third appointment when Judge Patricia Breckenridge retires after turning 70, the court’s mandatory retirement age.
The seven-member commission, chaired by Chief Justice Mary R. Russell, announced the three nominations after nearly eight hours of interviews over the past two days and deliberating for roughly three hours on Tuesday.
Broniec, who lives in Montgomery City, earned a degree in business administration from Williams Woods University in Fulton and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 1996.
Gardner, who lives in Cape Girardeau, earned a political science degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2001 and graduated with a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 2004.
Gooch, who lives in Springfield, earned a degree in English and philosophy, law and rhetoric from Stephens College in Columbia in 1997. She also received a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 2000.
Tuesday’s announcement means that Parson will not be able to consider any applicants from the Kansas City area for the vacancy on the court. One of the applicants was state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Parkville Republican who successfully passed legislation last year to force Kansas City to spend more on police.
Jackson County Judge Kenneth R. Garrett III, who hails from Kansas City, also was one of the applicants and was the only Black person to apply.
Garrett, through a spokesperson, declined comment on Tuesday. Luetkemeyer did not respond to a request for comment.