PRESIDING CIRCUIT JUDGE: Honorable Steve Privette (R)

LOCATION: 106 Courthouse, West Plains, MO. 65548

PHONE: (417) 256-4261


The Office of Presiding Circuit Judge is an elected position and is governed pursuant to the Revised Statutes of Missouri, chapter §478. Pursuant to RSMo §478.240, the presiding judge of each circuit which is provided by Subsection 3 of Section 15 of Article V of the Constitution shall be selected for a two-year term. The circuit and associate circuit judges in each circuit shall select by secret ballot a circuit judge from their number to serve as presiding judge. Selection and removal procedures, not inconsistent with the rules of the supreme court, may be provided by local court rule. If a presiding judge is disqualified from acting as a judicial officer pursuant to the Constitution, Article V, Section 24, the circuit judges and associate circuit judges of the circuit shall select a circuit judge as presiding judge. If the circuit does not have an eligible judge to be elected presiding judge, then the chief justice of the supreme court may designate an acting presiding judge until a successor is chosen or until the disability of the presiding judge terminates.

Subject to the authority of the supreme court and the chief justice under Article V of the Constitution, the presiding judge of the circuit shall have general administrative authority over all judicial personnel and court officials in the circuit, including the authority to assign any judicial or court personnel anywhere in the circuit, and shall have the authority to assign judges to hear such cases or classes of cases as the presiding judge may designate, and to assign judges to divisions. Such assignment authority shall include the authority to authorize particular associate circuit judges to hear and determine cases or classes of cases. By this subsection the presiding judge shall not, however, be authorized to make the following assignments:

Assignment of a municipal judge to hear any case other than to initially hear a municipal ordinance violation case of the municipality which makes provision for such municipal judge, except that the presiding judge of a circuit may assign a municipal judge of a municipality within the circuit to hear and determine municipal ordinance violations in a court of another municipality within the circuit if the municipality to which the judge is especially assigned by the presiding judge has made provision for the compensation of such judge;

Assignment of a judge to hear the trial of a felony case when he or she has previously conducted the preliminary hearing in that case, unless the defendant has signed a written waiver permitting the same judge to hear both the preliminary hearing and the trial, or unless the defendant has indicated on the record that the defendant is permitting the same judge to hear both the preliminary hearing and the trial;

Assignment of a case to a judge contrary to provisions of supreme court rules or local circuit court rules; and assignment of a case or class of cases not within the class of cases specified in section §472.020 to a circuit judge who is also judge of the probate division and who was on January 1, 1979, a probate judge shall only be with the consent of such judge of the probate division.

If any circuit judge or associate circuit judge shall proceed to hear and determine any case or class of cases which has not been assigned to him or her by the presiding judge pursuant to subsection 1 or 2 of this section, or to which he or she had not been transferred by the chief justice of the supreme court, or in the event the purported assignment to him or her shall be determined to be defective or deficient in any manner, any order or judgment he or she may have entered may be set aside, as otherwise provided by rule or by law, and the judge may be subject to discipline under Article V, Section 24 of the Missouri Constitution, but he or she shall not be deemed to have acted other than as a judicial officer because of any such absence, defect or deficiency of assignment under this section, or transfer by the chief justice.