Parkville attorney becomes first female Platte County judge
The wait is over.
Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday appointed W. Ann Hansbrough as Associate Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit in Platte County. Hansbrough will fill the vacancy created by Judge James W. Van Amburg’s appointment to the Circuit Court. Her appointment means only one associate circuit judgeship is left to be filled as the Sixth Circuit reorganizes in the wake of the retirement of longtime Judges Lee Hull and Abe Shafer. But that’s not the biggest news surrounding Hansbrough ’s appointment. That would be this: she is the first woman in history to be appointed to the Platte County judiciary. “I’m the first female judge in Platte County history and I’m honored beyond words,” Hansbrough said Tuesday afternoon. “The judiciary group in the Sixth Circuit is excellent and the bar association is exemplary as well. I can’t think of a better place to begin my judiciary career.” Hansbrough, 53, was one of three applicants submitted to the Governor for consideration by the Sixth Circuit Judicial Commission under the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan. The other two candidates were attorneys Quint Shafer and Christie Jess. Hansbrough graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 1985 and practiced at the law firm of Swanson Midgley of Kansas City from 1985 to 2003. She joined her husband’s law firm (The Law Office of David C. Stout) in Kansas City in 2003 and the firm’s name was changed to the Law Offices of Stout and Hansbrough in 2004. She was the first female partner in the 100-plus year history of Swanson Midgley and said she is not intimidated by a male-dominated bench. “I’m not intimidated by much, whether it’s a male-dominated bench or a law firm” Hansbrough said in an interview with The Citizen last fall. “I watch ESPN as much as they do.” Hansbrough has spent the majority of her career working in civil law rather than criminal, but said that is an asset she could bring to the job that not many of the candidates possessed. “Ann’s wide array of litigation experience in cases involving civil rights, education, fraud and domestic relations have provided her a depth of experience that will serve the people of Platte County well in her new position as Associate Circuit Judge,” Nixon said. Hansbrough‘s appointment is the latest in the reorganization of the Sixth Circuit bench. Hull and Shafer were mandated by state law to retire last year when they reached 70 years of age. Van Amburg and Associate Circuit Court Judge Thomas Fincham were appointed to fill those slots. After Hansbrough’s appointment to the associate circuit judgeship, Nixon still has one more appointment to make to fill the remaining open associate circuit post. Hansbrough said she is honored to be appointed to the same bench with all of the current Platte County judges and especially in the wake of the distinguished careers of Hull and Shafer. “If my name could ever be mentioned in the same breath as those gentlemen, it would be quite an honor,” she said. Hansbrough, who lives in Parkville with her husband and their two daughters — a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia and a junior at Park Hill South High School — said she is appreciative of all the support she has received throughout the process. “It requires the support of so many people,” she said. “That support from friends and colleagues has been immeasurable.”