Judge Mary Kathryn Hoff, the current chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, announced she will retire effective August 2, 2021. Hoff was appointed to the court in 1995 by the late Governor Mel Carnahan and has served the Eastern District for more than 25 years. She previously served as chief judge from July 2000 through June 2001. To succeed Hoff as chief judge, the Eastern District judges unanimously elected Judge Sherri Sullivan for a term beginning July 1, 2021. Like Hoff, Sullivan’s election marks the second time she has served as chief judge, her prior term being from July 2003 through June 2004. The chief judge is the chief administrative officer of the court, presides at court en banc meetings and represents the court to the public.
As both women reflected on these changes, they noted their intertwined lives. Both grew up in large families in St. Louis, attending Catholic grade schools and all-female high schools. Both graduated from Saint Louis University Law School. While Hoff worked as a public defender, Sullivan worked in the circuit attorney’s office, and they tried criminal cases against each other. In 1989, then- John Ashcroft appointed Hoff as a circuit judge and Sullivan as an associate circuit judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit (St. Louis city). The late Governor Mel Carnahan appointed both women to the appellate bench – Hoff in 1995 and Sullivan in 1999.