Garrison to retire from Missouri Court of Appeals

26 July 2007

Garrison to retire from Missouri Court of Appeals

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Judge Phillip R. Garrison announced today that he will retire Sept. 11 from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, after nearly 15 years of judicial service. He was appointed to the court in December 1992 and was retained twice by voters for 12-year terms. Upon retiring, Garrison will become a partner in the law firm of Shughart Thomson & Kilroy, P.C., practicing civil litigation in the firm's Springfield office.

"During his almost 15 years of service as a judge on this court, Judge Garrison has been a superb student of the law, a wonderful colleague and a great friend," said Judge Gary W. Lynch, chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District. "His desire to get the law and the facts right in every case has been an inspiration to each and every one of us.  While we wish Judge Garrison well in his new endeavors, it is with sadness that we bid him leave, as his keen eyes and warm smile will be greatly missed on our court."

While on the Court of Appeals, Garrison authored nearly 800 opinions, served four years as a presiding judge of one of the court's two divisions, and served as the court's chief judge in 1998 and 1999.

"I have been honored to serve as an appellate judge in Missouri," Garrison said. "I've enjoyed my relationship with the other judges on our court and throughout the state. But after more than 14 and a half years on the bench, I've reached the point of time in my life when it's time to make a change and move on to other challenges. I am looking forward to returning to private practice and engaging in civil trial work."

A native of Springfield, Garrison, 65, earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1964 from Drury College in Springfield and his law degree in 1966 from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. Aside from serving from 1971 to 1972 as prosecuting attorney of Christian County, Garrison worked in the private practice of law in Ozark, Mo., and Springfield from 1966 through 1992. He has written chapters about discovery, particularly in civil litigation, for desk books for Missouri lawyers and judges. He also has taught numerous continuing legal education courses and has made numerous presentations for non-legal groups about civil litigation and the justice system.

In 1990, Garrison was selected to become a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, joining less than one percent of the practicing trial lawyers in the nation. To be eligible, an attorney must have been an active trial lawyer for at least 15 years and must pass a rigorous local, state and national screening process to be invited to become a fellow. The college, a professional association comprised of attorneys skilled in the trial of both civil and criminal cases, is dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice, and the ethics of the profession.

The College recently appointed Garrison to a 12-member task force to work with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, based at the University of Denver, to review the rules of discovery nationwide and other factors that may limit access to the justice system and then to recommend ways to make the process of discovery in civil cases more expeditious and less expensive. "We are concerned that the expense of litigation is excluding people from the judicial system," Garrison said.

In addition, Garrison has been active in the College's National Trial Competition, which it co-sponsors with the Texas Young Lawyers Association. He has served on the National Trial Competition Committee for eight years and was its chairman for three years. He actively worked to recruit other fellows of the college to judge regional qualifying competitions throughout the country and to recruit law schools to compete. He says that 150 of the approximately 175 accredited law schools now have teams in the competition, some of them with more than one team.

Garrison also served in 2001 on the state's Redistricting Commission, a commission of six appellate judges charged by the constitution with the responsibility of redistricting Missouri's legislative districts following the decennial census after the General Assembly and a citizens commission failed to reapportion the districts. This was the first time in the history of Missouri that the Redistricting Commission was required to redraw the district boundaries of both the house and the senate.

Garrison and his wife, the former Patricia Kelly, live in Springfield. They have one son, Timothy, who with his wife Coleen and son, Hunter, live in Florida.