Ann Hansbrough, Megan Benton given oath
here were several things the retiring James Van Amburg says he tried to accomplish as a judge.
Those things include, he said:
1. “I wanted to make sure I was accessible and available.”
2. “Do not make the practice of law any harder than it already is.”
3. “Treat everyone respectfully, no matter the reason they are appearing before me.”
Van Amburg mentioned those things at a retirement reception for him hosted by the Platte County Bar Association on Thursday night at The National Clubhouse in Parkville.
A large of crowd of attorneys and fellow judges were there to wish Van Amburg well, and to witness the investiture ceremonies of W. Ann Hansbrough as circuit judge and Megan Blair Benton as associate circuit judge.
Officially, he retired at the end of 2020 when his latest term as Platte County Circuit Court Judge ended.
Van Amburg turns age 70 this year, which is the mandatory retirement age for judges in Missouri. He has assumed senior judge status and will continue to hear about eight or nine cases in which the involved attorneys requested he keep, Platte County Presiding Circuit Court Judge Thomas Fincham told the crowd on Thursday.
Van Amburg’s first connection to Platte County Circuit Court was as a juvenile officer in 1973. He earned his law degree in 1982 from Washburn University. From 1982-93 he was an attorney in private practice and from 1987-93 was a part-time assistant prosecutor for Platte County.
In 1993, Gov. Mel Carnahan appointed Van Amburg associate judge for Platte County Circuit Court, a position in which he served until 2013 when he was appointed circuit court judge.
Fincham, who said a few remarks in advance of Van Amburg’s talk to the crowd Thursday night, noted that Van Amburg “generally does not like a lot of fanfare or having a lot of attention drawn to him, so we’ll see how this goes.”
Later, in closing his remarks that had included some light-hearted moments, Van Amburg said:
“We are members of a hard-working profession and I am honored and privileged to be a part of that profession.”
Van Amburg has indicated he and his wife, Sue, will do some traveling in retirement.
The evening event opened at 5 p.m. with welcoming remarks by Blake Sherer, an assistant prosecutor in Platte County who serves as president of the Platte County Bar Association.
Then came the investiture of Judge Megan Benton, recently appointed by the governor to become the newest associate circuit judge in Platte County.
State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer offered the introductory remarks for Benton, who was administered the oath by Judge Van Amburg. Megan Benton’s husband, Paul Flucke, and children Nolan and Pierson joined her at the podium.
Her father, Duane Benton, a former judge on the Missouri Supreme Court who is now a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, was also on hand. Duane Benton served on the Supreme Court of Missouri from 1991 to 2004, including as chief justice from 1997 to 1999.
For the investiture of Judge W. Ann Hansbrough as Platte County Circuit Court judge, the introduction was performed by Gary Witt, a judge on the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals. Judge Fincham administered the oath for Hansbrough and she was joined at the podium by her husband David C. Stout and daughters Courtney Stout and Mackenzie Stout.
Hansbrough ran for re-election for the Division 4 judge of the Missouri 6th Judicial Associate Circuit Court. She won in the retention election on Nov. 3, 2020. Hansbrough was appointed as a judge of the Missouri 6th Judicial Circuit Court by Gov. Mike Parson on Jan. 15, 2021, to replace the retiring Van Amburg.
Hansbrough’s time on the Platte County bench began when she was appointed an associate judge of the Missouri 6th Judicial Circuit Court by Gov. Jay Nixon on Jan. 21, 2014, to replace Van Amburg, who was elevated to the position of circuit judge.