Cassville names new judge

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hager to retire after 4 years as city's municipal judge

The City of Cassville has appointed a new municipal judge to take the place of Judge Andrew Hager.

Randee Stemmons of Mt. Vernon, municipal judge in the 39th Judicial Circuit in Mt. Vernon, will replace Hager beginning Feb. 17.

"I have been doing this in Mt. Vernon and Verona and I hope to keep the process going as-is," she said. "I also hope to come up with my own ideas to increase collection of fines, and I'm really looking forward to it."

Hager, 74, will turn 75 on Feb. 14, and a state statute dictates a person may not serve as a municipal judge if age 75 or older.

"I'm viewing this with mixed emotions," Hager said. "I have enjoyed it very much. It's a good court with a good clerk, a good police force and good bailiffs, so I couldn't have asked for a better court."

Although Hager's retirement is bittersweet, he said he is excited to see Stemmons take on the role of Cassville municipal judge, and he has faith she will succeed.

"Every judge has their own way of doing things, and I've know Randee a long time and I know she will be a great judge," he said.

Hager's familiarity with Stemmons' family goes back more than 40 years, as Hager and Stemmons' father were partners at a law firm in the early 1970s. Hager left the firm shortly before Stemmons graduated from law school.

Bill Shiveley, mayor of Cassville, said he is happy to see Stemmons coming to the city, and he hopes the change will improve how the city's court system operates.

"I am impressed with her and her ideas," he said. "One thing that's been a pet peeve of mine is that we've had trouble collecting fines. [Stemmons] seems to be a little more stern in the way she does things.

"She has a good feel for the people and what they can pay, so hopefully we can get things done so we don't have to keep bringing people back in."

Shiveley said Stemmons was one of two candidates for the position. The city also contacted former 39th Judicial Associate Circuit Judge Carr Woods, but Woods was not interested.

Stemmons said she will continue to work for the Mt. Vernon, Verona courts, adding Aurora and Cassville courts to her work. She said with taking on so many courts, she will have to dial back on her private practice in Mt. Vernon.

The city of Cassville will pay Stemmons $750 per month for her work, and court is in session each week except for holiday weeks.

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