Mitchell files for assoc. judge seat

By Emily Jarrett

March 21, 2014

The winner of the Aug. 3 Republican primary for the Division 6 Associate Circuit Court judge will have competition during the November election as current Municipal Court Judge Deborah Mitchell announced her candidacy as an independent this week.

District 52 State Rep. Stan Cox and Pettis County Prosecutor Jeff Mittelhauser previously filed for the seat on the Republican ticket to take over the position from Judge Robert Liston, retiring due to term limits.

“Some people had been in touch with me over the past few months, asking me to consider running,” Mitchell said. “They wanted an opportunity for the people to have a choice for judge. As it stands now, whoever wins the primary would win the judge seat.”

Mitchell previously ran for the position in 2006 on the Democrat ticket, but said she has always believed judge seats should be non-partisan.

“In the municipal elections everything is non-partisan and that’s how I believe all judge races should be,” she said. “There’s no place for politics in the courtroom.”

Mitchell cited her nearly year-long stay in Afghanistan with the Rule of Law Program as confirming those beliefs.

“When you see the corruption (in the law) there, it’s really very powerful,” she said. “That being said, I don’t believe there’s that corruption here, but it definitely confirms what I believed before.”

Having served as municipal court judge for the last 18 years, Mitchell said she would like to bring the “same qualities used at the municipal level to this bench.”

“That means I’m going to be unbiased and fair and probably make a lot of people unhappy on both sides,” she said. “I’m going to listen to the facts and the law to make decisions based on those things, the same way I’ve been doing for the past 18 years.”

Mitchell does not have to file by the March 25 deadline because the state of Missouri doesn’t recognize independents as an established party, said Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada.

“Republican, Democrat, Constitution and Libertarian are the only recognized established parties in Missouri,” he said. “So, under state statute, (Mitchell) has to get petition signatures to us first.”

Statues require candidates to receive signatures equal to 2 percent of last year’s voter turnout. In the last election 10,675 people voted, which means Mitchell must collected 214 signatures, La Strada said.

“She has until July 28 to turn the signatures in which is when she’ll do her candidate filing,” he said. “She’ll bypass the August primary and face whoever wins the primary race in the General Election.”

“I’m very flattered and honored that I was asked to run,” Mitchell said. “I truly just believe the people of Pettis County should be able to have a choice in November.”