Jason Howell has been appointed to serve as the newest associate circuit court judge for Missouri’s 17th Judicial Circuit Court. He joins the bench in the recently established Division 6.
Howell, who previously worked as a prosecutor in Cass County, was appointed by Gov. Eric Greitens to the judgeship earlier this month. He was sworn into office Dec. 29 at the Cass County Justice Center in a courtroom filled with family members, peers, and current judges serving the 17th circuit, which handles cases in Cass and Johnson counties.
“With all that support, I was appointed by our governor Eric Greitens to our new Division 6, and now we move on to the operational phase,” Howell said during his investiture ceremony. “Some of you today may have some anxieties or concerns over the future of domestic matters in Cass County.
“Let me address that frontally. You’ve known me for many years, if you’ve practiced here in Cass County. I would hope that you’ve found me over the years to be nothing else but consistent. What I pledge to you as your new judge in Division 6 is consistency.
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“There will be no surprises. I promise to you that I will do my best to listen, to not be unpersuadable. I promise to ever be a student of the law and to learn the law as it changes and to not allow my position as judge to prevent me from learning the law from you. ... I am proud to be your newest judge.”
Howell, who will hear cases in family court as well as juvenile court, started in his new role Jan. 2.
According to Howell’s bio, he was born in St. Louis in 1973. His father, Steven Howell, was a Secret Service agent, which resulted in several transfers and ultimately a return to St. Louis, where he graduated from Parkway South High school.
Howell has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago and a juris doctorate degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law.
Prior to law school, Howell’s bio said he worked with youth in residential treatment facilities in Chicago and St. Louis. Howell said during the ceremony that he has also worked as a case manager in a foster-care program in the south side of Chicago.
As an attorney, Howell, 44, has spent the majority of his career in public service with a combined eight years in the Cass County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. During the previous five years, Howell served as the director of the child support enforcement division in the prosecutor’s office as well as working in the county’s Drug Court program.
Howell is a member of the Raymore-Peculiar Sunrise Optimist Club and is active with the Cass County Youth Court. He lives in Raymore with his wife, Renee, and enjoys cooking and landscaping.
During the ceremony Dec. 29, Circuit Judge Michael Rumley described Howell as an “invaluable asset” and a “compassionate, open-minded” individual. Rumley also recognized Howell for his involvement in the Drug Court program.
“I’ve grown to know Jason through his appearances in my court every week on my felony docket,” Rumley said. “He’s been handling the non-support, child support court cases in the prosecutor’s office and has a lot of really good qualities he demonstrates that are going to serve him well as he takes the bench.
“Without a doubt, every time one of his cases is called, he knows what’s going on, he’s current, he’s prepared, and he’s reasonable with the defense attorneys and tries to get things worked out so that those cases are moved along. With that type of open-minded, calm, cool and collected demeanor that he had as a prosecutor, that’s going to serve him extremely well as he takes the bench and serves day in and day out on making decisions as he hears cases.”
Associate Circuit Judge Stacey Lett shared her own observations of Howell’s handling of child support cases and paternity cases initiated through the state.
Lett also said that in 2017, the 17th Judicial Circuit Court had 349 delinquency referrals and 341 cases of child abuse and neglect. She added that between herself, Judge Chad Pfister, and the new judge, Howell, more than 600 cases remain pending.
“He gets these defendants who are kind and are receiving social security benefits or who are angry and yelling at him,” Lett said. “In my courtroom, I have never once seen him be in punitive nature and try to get me to put them in jail just because they’re being a jerk.
“I’ve never once seen him want a result that was unjust. I have seen him step forth even when that defendant’s attorney cannot say it or for whatever reason has forgotten or has disorganized their files and said, ‘Judge, this defendant just had a heart attack and has been on medical leave, so I think we should probably perhaps my recommendation is wait to collect for the next few months.’ I beg you to find a prosecutor who will do that in any other setting in any county.
“That’s Jason for you. He’ll step up for the right thing, understand, and balance the needs of each case, and have that mindset.”