|Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell was appointed Tuesday to the Missouri Supreme Court, marking the first high-profile judicial selection by new Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.
Powell will replace former Judge Richard Teitelman, who died in November at his home in St. Louis.
Powell, a 46-year-old Kansas City resident, was appointed by former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt as a Jackson County judge in 2008. He previously spent seven years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City and also worked as an assistant Platte County prosecutor.
Greitens said Powell has established himself as "an outstanding jurist."
"He has received high marks for being humble, fair-minded and of the highest integrity," Greitens said in a written statement accompanying his announcement. "I am confident Judge Powell will be committed to strengthening and improving our court system and guarding the rule of law as a judge on our state's highest court."
Powell's wife, Beth Phillips, was appointed as a U.S. district judge in 2011 by Democratic President Barack Obama after serving as U.S. attorney in Kansas City. His sister-in-law, Jennifer Phillips, was appointed to the Jackson County Circuit Court in 2014 by former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon after serving as an assistant county prosecutor. Powell's father, his father-in-law, an uncle and several cousins also have been attorneys.
"Coming from a clan of lawyers, this is a very special day for me and my family," Phillips said Tuesday in a written statement. "As I step into this new role, I hope to model the humility and judicial temperament exhibited by the late Judge Richard Teitelman who was known for his kindness and congeniality."
Unlike at the federal level, Missouri Supreme Court appointees are not subject to Senate confirmation. Instead, Powell will face a retention vote for a 12-year term during the 2018 general election.
Powell's appointment could shift the court a little to the right. Though Missouri appeals judges don't run as Democrats or Republicans, Teitelman had been appointed by former Democratic Gov. Bob Holden and typically aligned along liberal lines.
Powell's addition will mean three of the state's seven Supreme Court judges were appointed by Republican governors.