The three-way race for the associate circuit judge position of the 13th Judicial Circuit's XI Division is underway.
Joshua Devine was appointed on Feb. 16 by Gov. Eric Greitens to fill the position of Judge Deborah Daniels, who retired earlier this week. Devine, Kevin O'Brien, and Stephanie Morrell have all announced their candidacies for the position, and the election will take place in November.
Joshua Devine mug Joshua Devine was appointed by Gov. Eric Greitens on Feb. 16 to fill the Division XI associate circuit judge position.
Joshua Devine, 36, is a former attorney specializing in civil litigation who was privately sworn into the Division XI associate judge seat on Friday. Devine previously worked in Columbia, first as an associate attorney for Ford, Parshall & Baker and then as a principal for Rogers, Ehrhardt, Weber & Howard.
Devine is the son of former MU School of Law professor and associate dean James Devine. Devine said his late father instilled in him a respect for the rule of law, fundamental fairness and the administration of justice.
The 13th Judicial Circuit's use of alternative sentencing methods is something Devine said he takes an interest in and plans to continue.
"I think there's a particular need in our community to address an underlying problem with people that have offended," Devine said. "It might be that there's an underlying mental condition or substance abuse problem that can be addressed, and if addressed, that resolves the problem."
Devine will be publicly sworn in on March 9.
Kevin O'Brien mug Kevin O'Brien is a former public defender who primarily practices criminal defense law.
Kevin O'Brien, 47, is a former public defender who now practices out of his own firm in Columbia. He mostly practices criminal defense law and has been an attorney for 20 years.
O'Brien has worked as a district defender in Boone County as well as for the private law firm Harper, Evans, Wade & Netermeyer.
Working with the local bar association to get through cases more quickly and eliminating the backlog of clients who need public defenders are two of the issues O'Brien said he would prioritize as associate circuit judge.
In his current position, O'Brien said it is sometimes difficult to affect change.
"As a practicing attorney you constantly have to be mindful of what kind of impression you're making on the judiciary," O'Brien said. "I think that if you want to try to make a difference and be a successful public servant and serve the justice system in that capacity, trying to join the judiciary is necessary."
Stephanie Morrell Mug Stephanie Morrell is involved in alternative sentencing programs that attempt to provide substance abuse treatment rather than prison sentences.
Stephanie Morrell, 42, is an assistant prosecuting attorney who has been a part of the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney's Office since 2007. She has served as a prosecutor in 20 murder or manslaughter cases since 2007. Eight of those cases went to jury trial in Boone or Callaway counties, and all eight resulted in convictions, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Morrell is also involved in alternative sentencing programs that identify people eligible for substance abuse treatment rather than criminal charges.
"The goal is that we never see them in the criminal justice system again, that we put them back in society and get them the treatment they need," Morrell said in a previous interview with the Missourian.
Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart