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The Carthage Press
  • For Jasper County Judge Division 4

  • Incumbent Division 4 Associate Circuit Judge Joseph Schoeberl is retiring after several years on the bench and two attorneys are running for the Republican nod to replace him.
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  • Jasper County's court system has three circuit courts with one judge each, and three associate circuit courts with one judge each, and a family court commissioner.
    Associate Courts have general jurisdiction over civil cases with any cause of action under $25,000; small claims; traffic tickets; and criminal misdemeanors and felonies.
    Incumbent Division 4 Associate Circuit Judge Joseph Schoeberl is retiring after several years on the bench and two attorneys are running for the Republican nod to replace him.
    The winner of the Republican primary will likely win the office since there is no opposition in the November general election.
    The Carthage Press sent each of the two candidates a questionnaire with basic questions about the candidate's background and qualifications for the job.
    Here are their answers.

    Name: Michael L. (Mike) Roberts
    Q. How long have you lived in Jasper County?
    A. Lifelong resident (54 years of age)
    Q. Talk about your background, family?
    A. I was born and raised in Joplin. I attended Joplin Public Schools, graduating from Memorial High School in 1978. In the final semester of my senior year I was hit head-on by an intoxicated driver at 41st and Hearnes Boulevard. The intoxicated driver died as a result of his injuries and I was hospitalized several days with serious injuries.
    I joined the Joplin Police Department (JPD) in 1981, following in the footsteps of my father, Bob Roberts, who retired from the JPD in 1980. I began my career with JPD as a patrol officer and I was promoted several times over my 16 year career. At the time I left JPD to attend law school I held the rank of detective sergeant. I received my undergraduate degrees from Missouri Southern State University in Criminal Justice Administration and Law Enforcement.
    I attended law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While in law school I completed a two year judicial internship with the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, at Topeka. In this position I received incredible experiences in the appellate process, primarily working on habeas corpus appeals filed by prisoners incarcerated throughout the state of Kansas in either a state or federal penitentiary.
    Upon graduation from law school I returned to Jasper County where I served for five years as an assistant prosecuting attorney with Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. In this position I was responsible for the prosecution of all assigned cases which included various case types ranging from traffic, to DWIs, to felony cases. The felony cases included such cases as drug offenses, sex offenses, assaults, and homicides.
    In 2005 I left the prosecutor’s office to go into private practice. My practice has been focused on criminal, traffic, and DWI defense. I have also assisted clients in the area of adoptions, probate and will preparation, land/lord tenant matters, and collection cases to mention a few.
    Page 2 of 4 - My wife, Opal, and I have been married for 31 years and we have three wonderful children. As a family, we are members of College Heights Christian Church. Prior to attending College Heights I served several years as a Deacon.
    Q. How long have you been an attorney?
    A. 14 years
    Q. What is your speciality in your practice?
    A. My practice is focused primarily on criminal, traffic, and DWI defense.
    Q. Why did you want to be an attorney?
    A. I’ve always been intrigued by the law and how it affects our everyday lives. I enjoy helping people through the difficulties they encounter when dealing with the legal system.
    Q. Why do you want to be a judge?
    A. Coming from a law enforcement background laid the foundation for my desire to serve the citizens of Jasper County as judge. I believe that my vast experiences as a victim of crime, a police officer, a prosecutor, and as a criminal defense attorney make me the best, most well-rounded candidate for judge. It is these experiences that have taught me how to listen to people and how to make the appropriate decision based on the evidence and the law.
    Q. What makes a good judge?
    A. A good judge is one who is patient and willing to listen to all parties and all evidence before making a decision. The good judge is one who is knowledgeable in the law, one who is impartial and willing to make a decision based upon the law and the evidence as presented by each and every case. The good judge must have respect for all people he encounters regardless of the circumstances or location.  
    Q. What special challenges/benefits do you see in being a judge in Jasper County?
    A. Special challenges I see for a judge is having consistent decisions in all cases. Additionally, I see as a challenge the issue of finding resolutions that keep a person from reoffending. Those who reoffend are hard on us as a society and on themselves. I would like to see an expansion of a community based program to help reduce the number of repeat offenders. The benefits I see in being a judge are that I can use my varied experiences to help develop a method to address both first time and repeat offenders.
    Q. Why are you qualified to be a judge in Jasper County?
    A. As a life-long resident of Jasper County, I’m qualified for this position because of my well-rounded experiences. I have seen the legal system from all sides and have a better understanding of each perspective, whether it’s from being a witness called to testify in a case or from the side of the prosecution/plaintiff, the defense, or the bench.
    Page 3 of 4 - Q. Anything else you'd like to tell the public about you, your qualifications?
    A. It is my desire to bring my experiences to the bench, to humbly serve the citizens of Jasper County. As a victim of crime and as a police officer I was called numerous times to testify in court. From a witnesses perspective I know what it’s like to appear before a judge or jury to testify. I know how scary this experience can be especially for someone who has never been in court. As a police officer I dealt with people in difficult situations. It is my experiences as an investigator, prosecutor, and defense attorney that give me a better perspective on what questions need to be asked to get to the truth of a matter.
     
    Name: John Nicholas
    Q. How long have you lived in Jasper County?
    A. I have lived in Jasper County for 18 years.
    Q. Talk about your background?
    A. My wife and I have two boys, Joseph and Benjamin. We are members of Fairview Christian Church in Carthage.  
    Q. How long have you been an attorney?
    A. I have been practicing law for 18 years.
    Q.  What is your speciality in your practice?
    A. I am a prosecuting attorney for Jasper County, I represent several area school districts, and represent people in civil and family law cases.
    Q. Why did you want to be an attorney?
    A. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be an attorney. My father was an attorney, and I watched how he helped people resolve conflict or problems in their life. I wanted to help people just as my Father had done.
    Q. Why do you want to be a judge?
    A. Jasper County has always had great men and women serving the County as Judges. I want to continue that service.
    Q. What makes a good judge?
    A. A good Judge should know the law, have the experience in all types of cases he will preside over, and rely on the Constitution and common sense while interpreting facts and laws.
    Q. What special challenges/benefits do you see in being a judge in Jasper County?
    A. The volume of cases heard in Jasper County require efficiency in setting and hearing cases. Being available 24 hours for law enforcement and search warrants is critical.
    Q. Why are you qualified to be a judge in Jasper County?
    A. I have a great deal of experience in all of the kinds of cases that will be heard in Div. IV. In my 18 years of practice, I have gained the knowledge, experience, grown in wisdom and developed the appropriate respect and demeanor to serve Jasper County as Judge.
    Page 4 of 4 - Q. Anything else you'd like to tell the public about you, your qualifications?
    A. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Jasper County as an attorney and Prosecutor. I am excited about the opportunity to serve in a new way as Judge.

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