Jefferson City looking for temporary municipal judge to fill new courtroom

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JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City is looking for a municipal judge to fill a temporary position, starting January 1, 2019. The city has been looking for a new judge since the current one, Cotton Walker, was elected to the Circuit Court of Cole County on November 6.

Mayor Carrie Tergin is responsible for filling the temporary position, which runs until April 2019 when the spot will officially be up for reelection. 

Tergin said they may treat the temporary position as a space to groom a judge to take the position permanently next year.

"The requirements that we chose for the temporary judge are going to be the same as if someone were to run for that position," Tergin said. "It could be somebody who wants to run. Really, it's open to anyone."

Whomever fills the position will have a brand new courtroom at their disposal. The city hosted an open house on Wednesday at the municipal court room to show off their $552,143 renovations. 

The court room now seats 120 people and includes a juror section, even though juries are rare in municipal court, so that it can accommodate the circuit court if need be.

Judge Walker did a lot of planning for the new municipal chambers, so Tergin said he is having a bittersweet exit.

"He did a great job being our municipal judge," Tergin said. "We hate to see him go but we are very happy for him."

Municipal court handles all violations of city ordinances, like zoning violations and tickets. 

Ryan Moehlman oversees municipal court as the city counselor. He knows there will be growing pains with a new judge and said he's hopeful the caseload won't get backed up during the transition.

"Every judge brings in a different perspective and likes to have things done in a certain way. The chances that would be the exact same as the previous judge are pretty slim," Moehlman said. "Court staff will have to adjust to that and make it work."

Moehlman added that Jefferson City is a great place to be looking for a municipal judge, though.

"There is no lack of civicly-minded attorneys who want to chip in and do their part to make Jefferson City a better place to live," Moehlman said. 

Anyone looking to apply for the temporary opening can do so on the city's website. Applications close November 26 and the mayor thinks she will present her recommendation to city council at their second December meeting.