First African American woman elected as St. Louis presiding judge

Judge Robin Ransom
Judge Robin Ransom

The circuit judges of the City of St. Louis on Monday voted unanimously at their en banc meeting to elect Robin Ransom as the first African American female presiding judge of the 22nd Circuit.

“I was humbled,” said Ransom, a circuit judge since 2008 who previously served as commissioner of the city’s family court.

Ransom is the circuit’s assistant presiding judge. She said her colleagues approached her two years ago and encouraged her to submit her name to serve in that role. She did, and she won. Customarily in the 22nd Circuit, the assistant presiding judge later is elected as presiding judge. Ransom will begin her two-year term as presiding judge on Jan. 1, when current presiding Judge Michael K. Mullen’s term expires.

According to local court rules, the presiding judge is “responsible for the administration and management of the Circuit Court.” Circuit spokesman Thom Gross said the position entails serving as probate judge and civil-docketing judge. Other duties include scheduling judicial vacations, handling all contacts with the news media on matters of court policy and approving supply purchases and repair services.

“If it’s a Saturday morning and there’s a hole in the ceiling with water coming through it, they’re the one who gets the call,” Gross said.

Ransom said that one person teased her in reference to her imminent role by saying, “My condolences.”

She is not the first African American to serve as presiding judge. In 1999 and 2000, Judge Michael Calvin served in the same capacity.

Ransom said she is from the Fairground Park neighborhood of North St. Louis and that, as a young person, she drove past the courthouse many times without ever imagining she would be such an integral part of it.

“To have your colleagues say, ‘We respect you as a person, and a black female and a judge,’ I’m really proud,” said Ransom, a 1991 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law.

The St. Louis bench also voted at the meeting to elect Judge Rex Burlison as assistant presiding judge.


Judge David C. Mason Awarded For Leadership and Service

 Judge David C. Mason
Judge David C. Mason

In a ceremony Nov. 28, 2018, the Incarnate Word Foundation will present Circuit Judge David C. Mason its annual Leadership Award, which recognizes “individuals who have worked to provide opportunities for children, youth, women and seniors to reach their full potential and live with dignity as members of our community.”

The Foundation said, “Like the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, you answered the call … to have a soul for God and a heart for our neighbors. Your tireless work to change the justice systems that impact African American youth, your commitment to racial equity, and your work with our city’s most needy at St. Patrick’s Center are a few of the reasons why you have been selected to receive this award.”

Mason, the senior judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri, was appointed circuit judge in August 1991. Prior to his appointment, Judge Mason served as an Assistant Attorney General, general counsel to the Missouri Department of Corrections and was in private practice. Judge Mason has been a teacher of Trial Advocacy for The National Institute for Trial Advocacy, The Yeshiva University Benjamin Cardozo School of Law and several bar associations. He also has served as an adjunct professor of law at the Washington University School of Law since 1989. 

SLU Professor to Lead Judges In Look at Systematic Inequity

Ridding the judicial system of inequities is the goal of a session Sept. 24 at the St. Louis Circuit Court.

Guided by Psychology Professor Richard Harvey of Saint Louis University, judges from the St. Louis Circuit Court, Eastern Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court will conduct an examination of systematic inequity and how to avoid it in future decision making.

Harvey earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. At SLU, he is an associate professor of psychology with a joint appointment in both the Social Psychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology programs. He conducts research, teaches, and mentors undergraduate and graduate students in both areas.

His research primarily centers on Collective Identity and its relations to a variety of phenomena social groups and organizations. He is a fellow of the Center for the Application of Behavioral Sciences, through which he provides consultation in the areas of strategic planning, diversity development, organizational development, and program evaluation.

Harvey has earned recognition for his mentoring and teaching, including two outstanding teacher awards, one international teaching award, and one graduate student mentorship award.