A new group has popped up (well, at least their web site has) to voice its opposition to the non-partisan way we select our Appeals Court judges and Supreme Court justices: Better Courts for Missouri. Their Internets domain is newmoplan.com. I did a domain search to find out who owned it. No luck.
The web site is slick, and without any hint of irony, they state:
…Please join us as we work to update and improve the Missouri Court Plan and restore open transparency to judicial selection…
One question: If your main concern, the closing argument as it were, is all about transparency, don’t you think you’d list all the people involved in your enterprise?
Nope. Not for these folks. There’s not one name on the web site. Nada. Zip. Zero.
I did a committee search at the Missouri Ethics Commission for “Better Courts for Missouri”. Nada. Zip. Zero.
There is a little disclaimer at the bottom of their home page:
Better Courts for Missouri is a Missouri not-for-profit corporation that is exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to Better Courts for Missouri are not tax deductible.
Aha. A clue.
Let us Journey to the Missouri Secretary of State’s web site (bless you Robin Carnahan, for all that you do!) and look up a Missouri Corporation:
Well, what do you know? “Better Courts for Missouri” is the fictitious name for “Misourians for Open and Accountable Judicial Selection”.
Better Courts for Missouri Legal
Fictitious Registration – Domestic – Information
Charter Number: X00870661
Status: Fictitious Active
Entity Creation Date: 1/29/2008
Expiration Date: 01/29/2013
[Name Not Available] [Address Not Available]
And, they’re brand new!
Hmm. Let’s got back to the Missouri Ethics Commission and search for that committee. Nope. Nada. Zip. Zero.
Back to the Secretary of State:
Missourians For Open And Accountable Judicial Selection Legal
Non-Profit Corporation – Domestic – Information
Charter Number: N00868486
Status: Good Standing
Entity Creation Date: 1/18/2008
State of Business.: MO
Expiration Date: Perpetual
Last Annual Report Filed Date:
Last Annual Report Filed: 0
Agent Name: Snr Registered Agent Services, Inc.,
Office Address: One Metropolitan Square Building, Suite 3000
211 North Broadway
St. Louis MO 63102
Well, go figure, they’re new, too.
And, looking at their first filing with the Secretary of State, one finds that William Placke of Eureka, Missouri is the incorporator. Their “Purposes” (in Artcle VII) doesn’t say anything about transparency, but does say:
(a) To promote public awareness of the process for the appointment of judges in the State of Missouri;
(b) To advocate for change in the method of judicial appointment and to lobby for appropriate legislative and regulatory reforms necessary to accomplish such changes;
(e) To engage in similar educational, advocacy and lobbying activities.
Lobbying. I seem to recall something about that at the Missouri Ethics Commission. Nope. Nada. Zip. Zero.
Who is Mr. Placke?
Detailed Summary of Contributions And Loans Received
Committee: LEMBKE FOR SENATE
Report Date: 1/7/2008
William J. Placke Eureka, Mo 63015 Attorney 12/17/2007 $500.00
He’s an attorney?
Court Plan detractors mislead the public, push politics over fairness
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 09, 2007
Jefferson City – St. Louis attorney William Placke’s plan to undermine the Missouri Non Partisan Court Plan for choosing judges is being circulated in an attempt to convince voters that the Plan denies them input to the judicial selection and retention process….
Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on House Joint Resolution 1
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday heard testimony for and against House Joint Resolution 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove state court jurisdiction in tax and spending issues.
The House passed the measure in early March. The Missouri Bar opposes the resolution, expressing concerns that the measure would strip the public of their rights of access to state courts in many cases and threatens Missouri’s system of checks and balances. (Click for information on action and media coverage related to HJR1)
Testifying in Favor of HJR 1
Judge Robert H. Dierker, Jr., 22nd Judicial Circuit
William Placke, St. Louis Chapter of the Federalists Society
John Stoeffler, Madison Forum
Lowell Pearson, Deputy Director, Missouri Department of Revenue
Ron Calzone of Missouri First
Testifying Against HJR 1
Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge John C. Holstein
Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Edward “Chip” Robertson
Missouri Bar Past President Douglas A. Copeland
Dean R. Lawrence Dessem, University of Missouri – Columbia School of Law
Thomas F. Simon, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Missouri
SLU Law School hosting debate over “Missouri Plan”
By Jo Mannies
09/28/2007 3:04 pm
…William Placke of Charter Communications (and president of the local chapter of the Federalist Society) will join attorney Thomas Walsh, partner at the Sonnenschein law firm, in speaking against the current plan….
So far, I can only find one name to attach to the web site. At this point we can’t really quantify the grassroots support for someone’s impossible dream to change the Missouri non-partisan court plan.
The title of this post has to stand.