Mulling over the Missouri Plan -- A Review of State Judicial Selection and Retention Systems
Missouri Law Review Symposium 2009 -- February 27, 2009
Sandra Day O'Connor
Photo courtesy of Dane Penland,
Smithsonian Institution,
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Keynote Speaker

Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor was born in El Paso, Texas. She married John Jay O'Connor III in 1952 and has three sons — Scott, Brian, and Jay. She received her B.A. and LL.B. from Stanford University. She served as Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California from 1952-1953 and as a civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany from 1954-1957. From 1958-1960, she practiced law in Maryvale, Arizona, and served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965-1969. She was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in1969 and was subsequently reelected to two two-year terms. In 1975 she was elected Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and served until 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. President Reagan then nominated her as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and she took her seat September 25, 1981. Justice O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court on January 31, 2006.


Duane Benton

Hon. Duane Benton became a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on July 8, 2004. Judge Benton served on the Missouri Supreme Court from 1991 until 2004, serving as Chief Justice from 1997 to 1999. He is a 1972 graduate of Northwestern University and a 1975 graduate of Yale Law School, where he was managing editor of the Yale Law Journal. From 1975 to 1979 Judge Benton served with the U.S. Navy as a judge advocate. While in the Navy, he earned a Master's of Business Administration and Accountancy from Memphis State University, becoming a CPA in Missouri in 1983. After private practice from 1983 to 1988, Judge Benton served as Missouri's Director of Revenue from 1989 to 1991. A Vietnam veteran, he retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve at the rank of Captain, after 30 years of active and reserve service. Judge Benton is an adjunct professor at Westminster College and the University of Missouri School of Law.

Rachel Paine Caufield

Rachel Paine Caufield is a professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She also currently serves as a research fellow with the American Judicature Society's Elmo B. Hunter Citizens Center for Judicial Selection. Since joining the staff of the American Judicature Society in the fall of 2003, she has focused attention on a wide range of issues surrounding current judicial selection practices in the states, including the makeup of judicial nominating commissions and the procedures that nominating commissions use, the changing nature of judicial election campaigns, and the impact of Republican Party of Minnesota v. White on state codes of judicial conduct.

Her work has been published in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, the Akron Law Review, the ABA's Judges Journal, and Polity, as well as an edited volume entitled Running for Judge: The Rising Political, Financial, and Legal Statkes of Judicial Elections (NYU Press 2007). Professor Caufield received her Ph.D. in political science from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a B.A. in political science and mathematics from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. In 2000-2001, she spent a year as a visiting research fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Her primary field of study is American Government, with special attention to American political institutions, judicial politics, legislative politics, and inter-branch relationships in the American separation of powers context.

Anthony Champagne

Anthony Champagne received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois in 1973. He has taught at Rutgers University and currently teaches at the University of Texas at Dallas. He has written about law and poverty, the use and abuse of expert witnesses, congressional leadership, and judicial selection. His work on judicial selection has focused primarily on the partisan election of judges, and he has written about the changing politics of judicial elections over the past 25 years.

Professor Champagne's articles on judicial selection have appeared in numerous law reviews and journals such as Judicature and Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association. He has also testified about judicial selection in one federal court and in several legislative hearings and has spoken about judicial selection before numerous bar associations and civic groups and at academic conferences. His book on this subject was published with Kyle Cheek and it is titled, Judicial Politics in Texas: Partisanship, Money, and Politics in State Courts.

Michael DeBow

Michael DeBow has been a professor of law at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law since 1988. He regularly teaches courses in property, business organizations, administrative law, legislation, and local government law. Professor DeBow is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Yale Law School, and served as a judicial clerk for Judge Kenneth Starr of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. More recently, he served in a part-time capacity as a legal policy analyst for Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor. He is currently an Adjunct Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute.

Michael R. Dimino, Sr.

Michael R. Dimino, Sr. is an associate professor of law on Widener's Harrisburg Campus, and is currently a visiting associate professor at the Florida State University College of Law. Professor Dimino is an honors-program graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School (J.D., 2001). After graduating from law school, Professor Dimino served as Chief Clerk to Associate Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt of the New York State Court of Appeals, and then clerked for Senior Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Paul L. Friedman of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Professor Dimino joined the Widener faculty in July 2004 and teaches in the areas of constitutional law and related topics. His scholarship focuses on rights of political participation and judicial selection methods.

Lee Epstein

Lee Epstein is the Henry Wade Rogers Professor at Northwestern University, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

A recipient of ten grants from the National Science Foundation for her work on law and legal institutions, Professor Epstein has authored, co-authored, or edited over 100 articles and essays, as well as 14 books, including the Constitutional Law for a Changing America series (in its 6th edition; winner of the Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association), The Supreme Court Compendium (in its 4th edition; winner of a Special Recognition Honor from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association and an Outstanding Academic Book Award from Choice), and The Choices Justices Make (recipient of the Pritchett award for the Best Book on Law and Courts). Her book with Jeff Segal, Advice and Consent: The Politics of Judicial Appointments (Oxford University Press), received extensive media coverage, with its findings reported in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among other outlets. Her recent projects include "Strategic Defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court," which examines the circumstances leading lower courts to comply with/defy higher courts; "Ideological Drift" (Northwestern University Law Review), which explores the extent to which Supreme Court justices remain committed to a particular doctrinal course over time; and "Super Medians" (Stanford Law Review, forthcoming), which considers why strong swings emerge on the Court. She also is working with the papers of Justice Harry Blackmun for a book on agenda setting.

Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Brian T. Fitzpatrick joined Vanderbilt's law faculty in 2007, after serving as the John M. Olin Fellow at New York University School of Law. He graduated first in his class from Harvard Law School and went on to clerk for Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court. After his clerkships, Professor Fitzpatrick practiced commercial litigation for several years in Washington, D.C., and served as Special Counsel for Supreme Court Nominations to U.S. Senator John Cornyn. His research interests have included judicial selection, constitutional law, and class action litigation. Professor Fitzpatrick graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Rafael Gely

Rafael Gely is a law professor at the University of Missouri and has previously held academic positions at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and the University of Cincinnati Law School, where he served as the Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law. He teaches courses in employment law, labor law, and labor arbitration, among others.

Professor Gely earned his J.D. and Ph.D. in labor and industrial relations at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. His research focuses primarily on the regulation of labor markets and incorporates a variety of theoretical paradigms and methodological approaches. He has published more than 40 articles in nationally and internationally recognized academic journals including the Rand Journal of Economics, the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, the Texas Law Review, and the Southern California Law Review.

Professor Gely has received various scholarship awards including the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers' Eisenberg Prize for his recent article in the Wisconsin Law Review, "The Supreme Court and DIGs: An Empirical and Institutional Analysis" (co-authored with Professor Michael Solimine).

Charlie J. Harris, Jr.

Charlie J Harris, Jr., received his undergraduate degree from Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri and graduated in 1995 from the University of Missouri - Kansas City Law School, where he was a member of the UMKC Law Review and received the Bureau of National Affairs National Academic Excellence Award. Upon graduation, Mr. Harris served as law clerk to Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

In March of 2008, Mr. Harris joined the law firm formerly known as Seyferth Knittig & Blumenthal LLC (now Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris LLC). He has a national practice representing corporate and municipal entities against claims of race, sex and age discrimination and claims involving the ADA, FLSA and FMLA. Mr. Harris has been recognized by his peers as a Super Lawyer in the states of Kansas and Missouri.

In September 2007, Mr. Harris was elected president of the Missouri Bar, becoming the first person of color to hold that distinction. He has also served as Chair of the Western District of Missouri Federal Practice Committee by appointment by the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. In 2008, he was named a fellow by the American Bar Foundation and was also the recipient of the NAACP Diversity Advocate in Law Award.

Roy A. Schotland

Roy A. Schotland, professor at Georgetown University Law Center, teaches administrative law and election law and has taught pension regulation. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he served as a law clerk for Justice William J. Brennan of the United States Supreme Court. He was co-editor of the leading casebook in Administrative Law and has authored many professional works, including the Century Fund's study of conflicts of interest in finance, Abuse on Wall Street.

Professor Schotland has served as a consultant to the Federal Research Board, several congressional committees and state pension systems, the government of Bermuda, and the ABA. He is a member of the American Law Institute, is senior advisor to the National Center for State Courts, and has been awarded honors by the Conference of Chief Justices, the American Judicature Society, and the Justice at Stake Campaign.

Michael E. Solimine

Michael E. Solimine is the Donald P. Klekamp Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He received his J.D. from Northwestern University, clerked for a United States District Court judge, and practiced civil litigation. He teaches and writes on civil procedure, federal courts, election law, and conflicts of law. He has published numerous articles on various aspects of the selection of federal and state judges, focusing in particular on how the institutional differences between those selection processes do or should affect federal courts doctrine. His recent work on state judicial selection in Ohio has been published in two symposia.

Laura Denvir Stith

Hon. Laura Denvir Stith was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1975, she earned a B.A. magna cum laude from Tufts University. Judge Stith then attended the Georgetown University Law Center, where she earned a J.D., magna cum laude. After graduating from Georgetown, Judge Stith clerked for Judge Robert E. Seiler of the Supreme Court of Missouri. In 1979, Judge Stith began practicing in Kansas City with the law firm of Shook Hardy & Bacon, where she was elected partner in 1984 and later co-founded the firmís appellate practice group. In 1994, Governor Mel Carnahan appointed her to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. In 2001, Governor Bob Holden appointed Judge Stith to the Supreme Court of Missouri. She began her two-year term as Chief Justice on July 1, 2007.

Judge Stith has been an active member and speaker within the legal community throughout her career, recently serving as chair of the Gender and Justice Joint Committee of the Missouri Bar and the Missouri Supreme Court, president of the Association of Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, and chair and vice-chair of the Missouri Bar Civil Practice and Procedure Committee. She has authored many CLE publications and recently published a law review article, "A Contrast of State and Federal Court Authority to Grant Habeas Relief," in the Valparaiso Law Review.

Alan Tarr

Alan Tarr is director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies and distinguished professor of Political Science at Rutgers University-Camden. He serves as editor of State Constitutions of the United States, a 50-volume reference series (Greenwood Press) and as co-editor of Subnational Constitutions for the International Encyclopedia of Laws (Kluwer). He is co-editor of the three-volume State Constitutions for the Twenty-First Century (State University of New York Press), of Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries (McGill-Queen's), and of Federalism, Subnational Constitutions, and Minority Rights (Praeger). He is the author of Understanding State Constitutions (Princeton University Press) and Judicial Process and Judicial Policymaking (Wadsworth), co-author of State Supreme Courts in State and Nation (Yale University Press) and American Constitutional Law (Wadsworth). He served as editor and contributor to Constitutional Politics in the States (Greenwood) and Federalism and Rights (Rowman & Littlefield).

Professor Tarr has served as a consultant to the U.S. government and to several state governments. Three times the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a former Fulbright Fellow, he has lectured on state constitutionalism and state judiciaries throughout the United States and on subnational constitutionalism and federalism in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Mary Volcansek

Mary Volcansek is professor of political science at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She has published five monographs on various aspects of American and European judicial systems. The most recent was Constitutional Politics in Italy: The Constitutional Court. She has also edited or co-edited six volumes. Court Crossing Borders: Blurring the Lines of Sovereignty (with John F. Stack, Jr.) was published in 2005, and The Globalization of Justice (with Donald W. Jackson and Michael Tolley) will be published in 2009. She is currently working on a book-length manuscript on comparative judicial systems, tentatively titled Judicial Politics: A Comparative Lens. Professor Volcansek served on the Judicial Nominating Committee for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida for four years.

Stephen Ware

Stephen Ware is a professor of law at the University of Kansas. He is the author of two books and dozens of articles in both scholarly and popular journals. A versatile teacher, Professor Ware has taught at six law schools including the University of Kansas, the College of William & Mary, Ohio State University, the University of Alabama, Hamline University, and Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, where he was a faculty member for ten years.

Professor Ware is a frequent speaker at academic conferences and Continuing Legal Education programs from coast-to-coast and has testified before the U.S. Congress and state legislatures. He has appeared on television and radio and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The National Law Journal, and many other publications.

Before becoming a law professor, Professor Ware clerked for Judge J. Daniel Mahoney of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and practiced law with the firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York City. He earned his J.D., with honors, from the University of Chicago, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. He Received his B.A., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Penny White

Penny White is the Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law and the Director of the University of Tennessee College of Law Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution. Before joining the Tennessee faculty in 2000, Professor White served as a judge at every level of the Tennessee court system. She was the first woman circuit court judge in the First Judicial District, the second woman judge on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, and the youngest person to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Before taking the bench, Professor White was an E. Barrett Prettyman fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center, earning an LLM (Advocacy) from Georgetown in 1985. As a solo practitioner, she successfully argued Houston v. Lack before the United States Supreme Court.

At Tennessee, Professor White teaches evidence, professional responsibility, media impact on justice, trial practice, and pretrial litigation. She also administers the College's Judicial Externship program. White remains very involved in judicial reform issues and judicial education, having served as Chair of the Faculty Council and the National Judicial College and as consultant on the national Capital Litigation Improvement Initiative. She has authored three benchbooks for the Tennessee judiciary, a book on sentencing for judges, two chapters in the Capital Case Benchbook produced for courts around the country, and is currently authoring a three volume manual, Tools for the Ultimate Trial, for Tennessee lawyers representing defendants in capital cases. Professor White's articles on judicial independence, judicial ethics, capital punishment, and confrontation have been published in more than a dozen law reviews.