Zel Fischer discusses potential judicial circuit realignments in Missouri

Business leaders, educators, attorneys and judges filled the Rialto Banquet Center to learn more about the Missouri Judiciary from Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer during the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce’s noonday luncheon on Wednesday, June 20.

Missouri Bar President Morry Cole introduced Fischer to the group, discussing how a justice is appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court through the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan and how the Missouri Judiciary sets itself apart from entities in other states through traits like a high level of technology. As the Missouri Judiciary continues to set a precedent for the rest of the nation, changes are inevitable.

Fischer said a state statute requires the Missouri Judiciary to present a report to the state legislature regarding realigning judicial circuits — the geographical units that divide the state into 46 areas of judicial authority. The Missouri Supreme Court entered an order about one year ago, establishing criteria for factors that would affect a realignment for judicial districts.

The non-profit Missouri State Judicial Institute provided Fischer with a grant to produce the study, and meetings are scheduled to delve into the topic on Tuesday, June 26 and Friday, July 27.

Fischer said the Wednesday stop in Hannibal was his first since high school, and he enjoyed the opportunity to tour area businesses, conduct continuing education for legal professionals and visit with community representatives and answer questions. He said the tour revealed that Hannibal is progressing in the business and historical sectors.

Fischer said that the visit was part of a mission to encourage more direct dialogue between the Missouri Judiciary among legal professionals, community leaders and citizens throughout the Show-Me State. Next, he planned to visit in St. Louis and in the southwest part of the state.

“Whenever I go on these tours, rather than have prepared remarks, my preference is to listen and address the concerns of the citizens,” he said.

Fischer said he is eager to take an approach that differs from other public figures’ presentations.

“So many times, our public officials tell us what they want to tell us and talk about what they want to talk about,” he said. “And I’m just different in that regard — I’m concerned about if it’s important to you, it’s important to me.”

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com