News & Press: Announcements

George W. Draper III to Become Missouri's Next Chief Justice

Friday, June 28, 2019  
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – By order of the Court, Supreme Court of Missouri
Judge George W. Draper will become Missouri’s next chief justice July 1.
His term as chief justice will run through June 30, 2021. He succeeds Judge
Zel M. Fischer, who remains on the Court.

Draper, a St. Louis native, attended Hamilton Elementary School in St.
Louis before his family moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, where he
completed his education in the public school system. He received his
bachelor of arts in psychology in 1977 from Morehouse College in Atlanta
and, following in the footsteps of his father and his wife, received his
law degree in 1981 from Howard University in Washington, D.C. He then
clerked for the Honorable Shellie Bowers (also a St. Louis native) of the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Draper returned to St. Louis in
1984 as a prosecutor in the circuit attorney’s office, for which was
promoted to a team leader position in 1990 and to first assistant in 1993.
Since 1996, he also has served as an adjunct professor of law at Saint
Louis University, where he teaches trial advocacy.

In July 1994, Draper was appointed as an associate circuit judge of the
21st Judicial Circuit (St. Louis County) by Governor Mel Carnahan. Four
years later, Governor Carnahan appointed Draper as a circuit judge for the
21st Judicial Circuit. In 2000, Draper was elevated to the Missouri Court
of Appeals, Eastern District, for which he served as the first
African-American chief judge from July 2004 through June 2005. In October
2011, Governor Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon appointed Draper to the Supreme Court
of Missouri; voters retained him in November 2012. Draper is the second
African-American judge to serve on the state’s high court. He is chair of
the state’s treatment courts coordinating commission and serves as the
Court’s liaison to the judiciary’s family court committee as well as its ad
hoc committee on racial and ethnic fairness.

Draper and his wife, the Honorable Judy P. Draper, a former St. Louis
County associate circuit judge, live in St. Louis County and have one
daughter, Chelsea Westin Draper, JD/LLM, who serves as deputy chief of
staff to the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney. Draper also is a member
of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and the Covenant Community Church in
north St. Louis County.