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Judge Sweeney Plans to Retire

Long-time circuit judge Miles Sweeney is retiring in November...But news of his retirement became public in an unusual way. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Among Sweeney's accomplishments is the creation of the Community Alternative Service Program for non-violent offenders on probation. It's a model used by other agencies in Missouri. He also introduced a program called Children First, a mandatory parent education program that state lawmakers require in all divorce proceedings involving minors. Judge Sweeney has presided over more than 300 jury trials, including two that were broadcast on Court TV.

A press release from Governor Matt Blunt's office indicated Springfield attorney Bob Lawson would fill the vacancy quote-created with the *resignation* of J. Miles Sweeney. There had been no previous public announcement of Sweeney's departure. Sweeney says he's not resigning but retiring and he sent a letter to the governor making it clear he was *retiring*. But as word of the press release spread, Sweeney says his office was inundated with phone calls from people wondering why he had resigned.

In fact, Sweeney won't retire from the bench until November 12th.

A spokeswoman for Governor Matt Blunt says the standard practice is to characterize a judge's departure as a resignation to protect the privacy of the judge. The governor's office will use the word retirement if the judge specifically requests it. Since Judge Sweeney has now made that request, the press release on the governor's website is being changed.

Not only is Sweeney unhappy with the characterization of his departure by the governor's office in its initial press release, he's also unsure why the governor didn't seek applications for his replacement. Sweeney says the governor has the right to fill the vacancy as he see fits and Sweeney wholeheartedly endorses his replacement, Bob Lawson...but Sweeney wonders why there wasn't an application process.

The governor's spokeswoman Jessica Robinson says there's no formal process and no funding to seek applicants for judicial vacancies in the circuit courts.

Judge Miles Sweeney has served Greene County as a circuit judge for 23 years.