10 February 2012
Supreme Court celebrates investiture of Judge George W. Draper III
ST. LOUIS – The Supreme Court of Missouri’s newest judge, George W. Draper III, celebrated his formal investiture this afternoon in a ceremony in the en banc courtroom of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, at the Old Post Office in downtown St. Louis. Chief Justice Richard B. Teitelman presided over the ceremony, including the administration of the oath of office, at the ceremony.
Eleven people – including Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Rep. William “Lacy” Clay, former St. Louis circuit attorney Dee Joyce Hayes and Lynn Ann Vogel, president of The Missouri Bar – spoke to an overflowing courtroom full of friends and well-wishers. Several lifelong friends – including attorney Rodney K. Strong of Atlanta, Ga., a classmate of Draper’s at Morehouse College in Atlanta – also spoke, as did Draper’s daughter Chelsea, a third-year law student at Washington University. Draper’s brothers and his wife, Judge Judy Preddy Draper, an associate circuit judge in St. Louis County, assisted in the robing.
In praising Draper’s judicial temperament, Nixon noted that “judicial temperament is the internal gyroscope that keeps justice – and justices – on track even in the most turbulent of times.” He also commented “how good it is” that the state’s Supreme Court is a “reflection of the true diversity of all Missourians.”
Micah Hall, president of the Mound City Bar Association, noted in her remarks how fitting it was for the celebration of only the second black judge appointed to the Supreme Court of Missouri to come during Black History Month.
In his remarks, Strong said it is “important that every community be represented on the Supreme Court of a great state” and noted that “we are doing something today that is going to make Missouri a better state than it was previously.”
After the robing, an emotional Draper repeatedly stressed that he is “not a self-made man,” thanking the lawyers with whom he had worked and practiced early in his career, his colleagues on the trial and appellate benches, and his long-time staff for all their support over the years. He reserved special thanks for his daughter, whom he called his “heart;” his wife, whom he called his “rock;” and his parents, both deceased, whom he said “showed me the way.”
Draper, a native Missourian, earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta and his law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. He served as an assistant prosecutor in the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office from 1984 through 1994 and as first assistant from 1993 through 1994. He served on the St. Louis County court as an associate circuit judge from July 1994 to June 1998 and as a circuit judge from June 1998 to May 2000, when he was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District. He served on that court – including a term as chief judge from July 2005 through June 2006 – until his October 2011 appointment to the Supreme Court.