ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A question on Missouri’s November 2020 ballot may perplex some voters. The line says, “Shall Judge Patricia Breckenridge of the Missouri Supreme Court be retained in office?” Many people may not be familiar with her background or track record. So, here are some of the key points to note before you vote.
Missouri’s constitution says that Supreme Court justices serve for 12-year terms. They may serve for multiple terms but must retire when they turn 70-years-old. Judges can apply for “senior status” if they wish to continue hearing cases on a limited basis.
The Missouri Bar says that Breckenridge substantially meets overall judicial performance standards.
Breckenridge is 66-years-old. She started serving as a Missouri Supreme Court judge in 2007 and was retained by voters in 2008.
Breckenridge was named Chief Justice of the Court from 2015 to 2017. Missouri Lawyers Media named her “Woman of the Year” in 2017.
“Breckenridge, Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s Woman of the Year, is perhaps an ideally suited candidate to deliver such a message. She’s a former elected Republican judge from a rural county — a background that 10 years ago led a different Republican governor to appoint her to the Supreme Court in the first place.
Breckenridge frequently acknowledges her roots, but she also transcends them. In her speech to lawmakers in January, she noted that three successive Republican governors named her to the benches on which she’s served. Yet she’s prouder of the line that followed: “It has been my privilege to serve with judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic governors and to work to decide cases according to the law.”Missouri Lawyers Media
Missouri’s judicial system was under scrutiny by former Governor Eric Greitens. He called it “broken” in his 2017 State of the State address. Breckenridge defended the system said that less than one percent of all cases in Missouri involve wrongful death or personal injury claims.
Gov. Mike Parson approved legislation bringing sweeping changes to how punitive damages are assessed in 2020.
Born in Nevada, Missouri she has an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics and law degrees from the University of Missouri.