After 12 years on the bench, Associate Circuit Judge Deborah Daniels announced Thursday she will retire from the 13th Judicial Circuit on Feb. 28.
Daniels, 67, was elected in 2006 and won re-election in 2010 and 2014.
She has earned recognition as a judge for creating a video docket system so patients in mental health facilities don’t have to be physically transported to the courthouse and psychiatrists can give expert testimony remotely. This protects patients, uses fewer law enforcement resources and saves doctors’ time, according to a news release from Deputy Court Administrator Cindy Garrett.
In December 2017, Daniels won an award from the Missouri Psychiatric Center for 10 years of contributions to mental health cases.
She also oversees the probate court and created a specific domestic violence docket to streamline all cases to one judge, allowing them to be processed more quickly, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Daniels sits on a variety of court committees centered on improving and modernizing the functionality of Missouri’s legal system, and she received an Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource Award in 2009 for completing 120 hours of court-related science and technology training. She is also a fellow of that program.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in broadening my base of knowledge in regard to science and technology through participation in national programs, and being able to bring that knowledge back to the trial bench in Boone County,” she said in an interview Thursday. “I’ve enjoyed watching some of the people in probate grow up to be really successful adults, I’ve enjoyed (watching) some of the adults find some peace because of the action that was taken in the probate court, and I’ve watched some criminal defendants mature and turn their life around.”
After her retirement, she plans to enjoy some time off.
“The first thing I’m going to do is catch my breath,” she said. “I’ve been extremely busy.”
Daniels said she has adult children on the East and West Coasts with whom she’d like to spend more time.
“And then I am hopeful I will be able to find a way to contribute and serve the legal system in a way that probably doesn’t require 12-hour days but that I can manage in a more reasonable working day,” she said.
Prior to her election to the 13th Circuit, Daniels served as an assistant prosecutor for Boone County, an assistant state attorney general and as a law clerk and director of research and staff at the Missouri Supreme Court.
She is a graduate of MU School of Law.
“Judge Daniels’ career in the legal community will remain remarkable and unsurpassed,” Presiding Judge Kevin Crane said in a news release. “I have known Debbie since she taught me legal research and writing in law school, and I have learned a great deal over the years since then from her. The 13th Circuit and Missouri will surely miss Judge Daniels’ contributions and intellect.”