21 September 2005
Missouri chief justice honors corporate counsel
Contact: Beth Riggert, Communications Counsel
Supreme Court of Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Supreme Court of Missouri Chief Justice Michael A. Wolff this afternoon honored W. Wayne Withers, general counsel of St. Louis-based Emerson Electric, for his commitment to and efforts on behalf of Missouri courts. Though titled the Chief Justice's Award, Wolff said the award to Withers this year was a recognition of appreciation by the Judicial Conference of Missouri, the organization of all state judges.
"Every now and then, one member of the Bar rises far above the call of duty and invests not only his rhetoric but also his time, energy, reputation and leadership in defending the rule of law," Wolff said. "I cannot begin to explain the lengths to which Wayne has gone in defense of the impartiality of the courts and the rule of law as the guiding principle of our nation."
Wolff described Withers' efforts in the state capitol building, encouraging support of the court system, monitoring legislative developments, and asking legislators and others to plead caution and restraint on many issues affecting the courts.
Withers explained that an examination of the state court system is very important to business deciding whether to operate in Missouri. He said these businesses look for a judiciary that is solid, predictable, efficient, and fair and consistent in its application of the law. He noted that losing a business due to problems in a court will have a negative economic benefit on Missouri's communities and citizens.
"I don't always expect to win, but I do expect to be treated fairly," Withers told the audience more than 125 judges about his expectations of the judicial system. " I expect to have our causes heard by competent judges, to have our cases resolved expeditiously and, in the end, be assured that, win or lose, the law was followed fairly."
Withers said public education about the judicial branch is important. He said that he learned many legislators do not understand how the courts function and that, if they don't understand how courts function, then Missouri's citizens are even less likely to understand how their court system functions.
Wolff presented the award to Withers during the annual meeting of the Judicial Conference of Missouri, which began this morning in Kansas City, Mo.