Judge Wendy Garrison, Chief Judge of the Springfield Municipal Court. (Photo courtesy of the city of Springfield)

Springfield has a new chief judge. Effective July 3, Municipal Court Judge Wendy Garrison becomes the chief judge of Springfield’s municipal court, replacing the late Todd Thornhill.

“It is an honor to be selected as chief judge for Municipal Court,” Garrison said. “We have a great team of employees and it is a privilege to lead them.”

Municipal courts handle cases where persons are accused of violating ordinances or committing crimes such as driving while intoxicated, common assault, probation hearings and a variety of other violations ranging from traffic violations to shoplifting.

“Wendy was selected using a very thorough and competitive process,” Springfield City Manager Jason Gage said. “She is very bright, experienced and has a terrific approach. We truly look forward to having Wendy as our municipal court chief judge.” 

Gage said the City of Springfield will fill the vacancy Garrison’s promotion creates as soon as possible.

Garrison became a Springfield municipal court judge in January 2018. She previously worked for the State of Missouri as an assistant public defender in Springfield. Garrison was a partner in the law firm of Twibell, Johnson, Johnson and Garrison in Springfield from 2002 until 2010. She was in private practice in Neosho from 1998 until 2002, where she also served as a conflicts attorney for the Missouri State Public Defender. 

Garrison’s law experience also includes time spent as an assistant city attorney for the City of Neosho and as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Newton County. Garrison also has past experience as a law clerk for the Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District.

Garrison received her law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law and her bachelor of arts degree in English from Drury University. 

She is a member of the Missouri Bar Association, the Missouri Bar Foundation Board of Trustees, the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association and a 2015 recipient of Missouri Lawyers Media’s Public Service Practitioner Award and a 2010 recipient of the Springfield Business Journal Twenty Most Influential Women Award.

Garrison’s yearly salary will be $145,000, according to a press release from the City of Springfield. The Springfield Municipal Court has a staff of about 30 people, including two judges, and an annual budget of $2 million.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger