Prospective candidates, including two local attorneys, have already begun submitting their names to Greitens for consideration, according to three attorneys who work in the 26th circuit.
Former Associate Circuit Court Judge Matthew Hamner has been appointed Circuit Judge for the 26th Judicial Circuit, replacing Stan Moore who retired last month, Gov. Eric Greitens announced earlier this week.
Hamner, a resident of Osage Beach, had been an Associate Circuit Court Judge for Camden County since 2015. The appointment means he’ll also be assigned cases in Laclede, Miller, Moniteau and Morgan counties.
Prior to being elected to the bench in the 2014 election, Hamner worked in private practice for 12 years and began his law career as a clerk to the Judge Willam Ray Price, Jr., of the Missouri Supreme Court, according to a press release from Greiten’s office. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication as well as a law degree from the University of Missouri.
“I am proud to appoint Judge Matt Hamner to the circuit bench for the 26th Judicial Circuit,” Greitens said in the release. “Judge Hamner is a proven leader both on and off the bench, and his experience and devotion in the courtroom and the community make him uniquely qualified to serve as a circuit judge.”
Hammer is also president of the 26th Judicial Circuit Bar Association and a board member for the Camdenton Rotary Club and the Camdenton Educational Foundation. He and his family are parishioners of the Harper Chapel United Methodist Church.
“I’m extremely honored that Governor Greitens picked me to fill this spot,” Hamner said on Thursday in a phone interview. “The 26th Judicial Circuit consists of a lot of great people and I’m looking forward to getting to work for all of them.”
Hamner’s appointment will last until 2018 at which time he will seek re-election for the position, he said.
The appointment now leaves a vacancy for Hamner’s previous role of Associate Circuit Court Judge for Camden County. Associate judges are elected to four-year terms with the next election coming in 2018. These judges hear all criminal misdemeanors and infractions, and can also hear all civil cases, according to the Office of State Courts Administrator.
In the event of a felony criminal case, an associate circuit judge conducts a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not there is probable cause to find that a felony has been committed and that the defendant committed the crime. If the judge finds probable cause, the defendant is then “bound over” for trial in the circuit court division.
Prospective candidates have already begun submitting their names to Greitens for consideration, according to three attorneys who work in the 26th circuit.
Two prospective candidates for the position include Camden County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Gilley and Osage Beach attorney Cole Bradbury of the Williams Law Firm.
Gilley, a Camden County native, was elected to the position of Prosecuting Attorney in 2014 with a term ending in 2018 after defeating Bradbury and incumbent Brian Keedy in the Republican primary.
In the 2014 election, Gilley received 49.95-percent of the total votes while Bradbury had 30.95-percent and with Keedy receiving 19.95-percent.
Bradbury formerly worked for two federal judges in St. Louis and Jefferson City as well as former Gov. Matt Blunt approximately 10 years ago. He is currently also the municipal judge for the city of Iberia in Miller County.
If Gilley is appointed to the position, that would leave another vacancy to be filled by Greitens. There is no timetable to fill the vacancies nor do they require approval from the Missouri Senate.