Two judge appointments announced last week by Gov. Mike Parson resulted in the filling of one vacancy in the 31st Judicial Circuit while creating another one.
Becky Borthwick, of Springfield, was appointed Sept. 9 as a judge for the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, according to a news release. She succeeds Judge Gary Lynch, who retired in June.
Borthwick, who earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Oklahoma, most recently has served since 2019 as a circuit judge for the 31st Judicial Circuit, which covers Greene County.
She was among three finalists submitted to the governor last month by the state's Appellate Judicial Commission. The other finalists, according to a separate news release, were Ginger Gooch, a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP, and Raymond Williams, owner and member of Williams Law Offices LLC in West Plains and Eminence.
The Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, operates out of the Hammons Building in downtown Springfield. It comprises seven judges who handle cases in 44 southern Missouri counties, according to its website.
While Borthwick’s exit from the 31st Judicial Circuit results in a new vacancy on the bench, another seat was filled with the Sept. 9 appointment of Jerry Harmison Jr., according to the release.
Harmison, who earned his Juris Doctor from Drake University, has worked as an associate circuit judge in the 31st Judicial Circuit since his appointment to the position in 2017, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. In his new role, he succeeds Judge Calvin Holden, who retired July 31.
Along with Harmison, the 31st Circuit Judicial Commission last month submitted two other candidates to the governor for consideration of the judgeship: Randall Eggert, assistant attorney for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and T. Todd Myers, also a Greene County associate circuit judge.
Retirements have been piling up this year in the 31st Judicial Circuit, according to past reporting. Aside from Holden, Circuit Court Judges Michael Cordonnier, Jason Brown, and, most recently, Thomas Mountjoy have announced retirement plans. Mountjoy is expected to leave the bench Oct. 31, followed by Brown on Dec. 31 and Cordonnier at the end of January 2023. That leaves four of the six seats on the bench to fill in the coming months.
Metropolitan Bar Association Executive Director Crista Hogan previously told SBJ the timing of the retirements is “completely coincidental,” noting several of the judges have this year or are set to reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2023.
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