Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will personally interview three candidates to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court, the Republican told members of The Associated Press and Missouri Press Association on Thursday.
The Appellate Judicial Commission late Wednesday announced the nominees to replace former Judge Richard Teitelman, who died Nov. 29 in his St. Louis home.
The commission's picks are state Western District Court of Appeals Judge Lisa Hardwick, attorney Benjamin Lipman and Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell.
Under Missouri's nonpartisan court plan, the commission screens applicants and recommends three to the governor, who ultimately makes an appointment. Commission members include Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge, lawyers and citizens.
The commission selects a Supreme Court judge if the governor does not act in 60 days.
Greitens said he will interview the nominees about their judicial philosophies "so that we pick a Supreme Court justice who we believe will follow the Constitution and best serve the interests of the people of Missouri."
The commission's nominations drew criticism from a fellow Republican leader, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard.
Richard told reporters he's "not too excited" about the choices and next week will gauge whether there's interest among Senate Republicans to repeal the current system.
"I just think that there could have been a choice of a little more conservative jurist," Richard said.
Hardwick, of Kansas City, served as a Democrat on the Jackson County Legislature from 1993 to 2000 while also working as an attorney. She was appointed as a Jackson County circuit judge in December 1999 by Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan and named to the Court of Appeals in May 2001 by Democratic Gov. Bob Holden.
Hardwick has been a finalist for the Supreme Court at least once before. Republican Gov. Matt Blunt instead appointed Zel Fischer in 2008.
Powell was appointed by Blunt as a Jackson County circuit judge in February 2008. He previously worked as an attorney in Kansas City, as an assistant Platte County prosecutor and as an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City.
Lipman handles commercial real estate and First Amendment cases as an attorney at Lewis Rice LLC in St. Louis. Online state campaign finance records show Lipman has contributed to various Democratic candidates for state and local offices, though not in recent elections.