Missouri has 415 judges and commissioners. There are seven Supreme Court judges and 32 appellate judges on the three geographic districts of the intermediate court of appeals (the Missouri Court of Appeals). In the trial courts throughout the state, there are 142 circuit judges, 201 associate circuit judges, and 33 commissioners and deputy commissioners.
The qualifications for judge are governed by article V, section 21 of the Missouri constitution. In most counties in the state, circuit judges and associate circuit judges are elected by popular vote. Vacancies during a term are filled by appointment by the governor until the next general election. In the remaining five counties, in the urban areas of Kansas City and St. Louis, circuit and associate circuit judges are selected pursuant to Missouri's constitutional nonpartisan court plan. All appellate judges, including those on the Supreme Court, are selected pursuant to the nonpartisan court plan.
Judges who wish to serve beyond their term must seek another term. Judges subject to the nonpartisan plan must stand for retention at the general election prior to the expiration of their terms. Trial judges elected in partisan elections must seek re-election. Judges may serve until the age of 70.
If a judge retires, resigns or dies during his or her term in office, a vacancy is created. Vacancies for judicial offices subject to the nonpartisan plan will be filled following that plan's procedure. For other vacancies, the governor appoints a new judge to fill any portion of the term of judicial office that remains.