JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday appointed former aide Paul Wilson to the state Supreme Court.
Wilson was chosen from among three finalists to replace Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price Jr., who stepped down in August and now works in private legal practice.
Wilson, 51, of Jefferson City, worked for Nixon at the state attorney general’s office from 1996 to 2008. After Nixon was elected governor, Wilson followed and worked for Nixon as senior counsel for budget and finance and as the director of the Transform Missouri Project that focused on federal recovery money.
Nixon, a Democrat, said Wilson has represented Missouri before both the state high court and the U.S. Supreme Court in cases that dealt with federalism, converting nonprofit assets, school funding and the constitutionality of laws.
“He has demonstrated, time and again, both his ability and his dedication to serving the people of Missouri, and I am very pleased to be able to name him to the state’s highest court,” Nixon said.
Under Missouri’s judicial selection process, a state commission interviews applicants for vacancies on appellate courts and narrows the field to three nominees. The governor appoints one of them who later must go before voters in a retention election in which no other candidate appears on the ballot and voters decide whether or not to keep the judge on the bench.
The other finalists for the Supreme Court vacancy were Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners and St. Louis attorney Stanley Wallach.
The appointment to the high court is the second time that Nixon has tapped Wilson for a judgeship. In 2010, Wilson was appointed as a circuit judge in the Capitol’s home of Cole County. Running as a Democrat, Wilson lost a subsequent election to Republican Dan Green.
Wilson grew up in Jefferson City, and his father is the late McCormick Wilson, who was an associate circuit judge in Cole County.
In his application for the vacancy on the state Supreme Court, Wilson said he learned from his father about the value of understanding others’ points of view and of step-by-step reasoning. He said he learned from appellate judges with whom he has worked the importance of rulings that demonstrate how future cases will be treated.
“Each of them believed strongly that the judiciary best serves the public when it serves the trial courts and the Bar, and that appellate judges best serve the trial courts and the Bar by deciding cases in a way that is not only faithful to the legal principles involved but also serves as a meaningful predictor of how similar cases should be and will be resolved in the future,” he wrote.
Wilson graduated first in his law class at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a bachelor’s degree from Drury University in Springfield. He was a clerk for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward “Chip” Robertson.
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