Incumbent Division 5 Associate Circuit Judge Richard Copeland is retiring after several years on the bench and two attorneys are running for the Republican nod to replace him.

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.
The Division 5 Associate Circuit Court hears most criminal cases and a few civil cases. Criminal cases, especially felony cases, are heard by the Division 5 Associate Circuit Judge up until the preliminary hearing phase.
If this judge finds, at a preliminary hearing, that there is enough evidence to believe a defendant might reasonably be found guilty of a crime, the case moves to the circuit court for trial.
Incumbent Division 5 Associate Circuit Judge Richard Copeland 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: Nate Dally

Q. How long have you lived in Jasper County?
A. 36 years my whole life

Q. Talk about your background, family?   
A. I am lifelong resident of Jasper County, Missouri. My wife Maree and I have two sons, Jack and Hudson.
After high school I attended the University of Missouri Columbia for Undergrad and Law School.
Upon graduation I returned to his home in Jasper County, where I continue to serve as a prosecutor with Jasper County for 11 years. I have been a professor of criminal law at Crowder College and MSSU and serve on the Carthage R-9 Criminal Justice Advisory Board. I am a certified as a family and civil mediator and served as certified guardian ad item in domestic and probate cases.
I have tried more than 30 jury trials, as well as tried more than 300 bench trial cases, and for seven years served as city of Carthage Attorney and Prosecutor while also being in private civil practice as a small business owner.
I am active in the community. My family attend the First Presbyterian Church in Carthage where I serve as an Elder and Deacon. I am an Eagle Scout with the national organization, Boy Scouts. Past Campaign chair and current board member of the United Way. I am a recipient of the “Heart of MADD Award” from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and have been endorsed by the President of the Jasper Newton County MADD Chapter,  Bright Futures Carthage Site Council Member, State FFA Degree, Paul Harris Fellow, current President of the Carthage Rotary Club and proud lifetime member of the (NRA) National Rifle Association.

Q. How long have you been an attorney?
A. I have been and attorney and practice in Jasper County for 11 years.

Q. What is your specialty in your practice?  
A. I have spent 11 years as a prosecutor for Jasper County, seven years as a prosecutor for the city of Carthage and have on occasion been appointed a special prosecutor for Newton County.  In my private practice I have represented a local bank in associate collection cases as well as rent and possession.  My private practice is focused on civil trial work and have extensive work in associate civil/small claims and rent and possessions.  

Q. Why did you want to be an attorney?
A. Being an attorney has always been a passion of mine from a young age.  I especially enjoy working with victims of crimes and helping them find justice when they have been wronged.  

Q. Why do you want to be a judge?  
A. As a Judge you placed in a unique position of getting to see the entire case as opposed to advocating for a particular side or client and justice for all, is a clear and focused passion of mine. A passion which allows the people of Jasper County to know that as Judge, I will be driven to provide an open and respectful courtroom, ensuring all citizens have equal, fair and impartial treatment within the Jasper County judicial system.

Q. What makes a good judge?  
A. It is important to have a judge who is open and fair and that will leave all sides feeling a sense of justice. It’s important to the small business owner who
takes risk every day knowing there’s a judicial system that will help protect him or her
from those who would aim to do them wrong. It’s important to Mom’s and Dad’s knowing
our county is leading the way in Missouri in serving swift and due justice to those who
inflict pain on, or who choose to hurt our children. I believe Justice is one of the most
important foundations to any community leading the way in our pursuit of life, liberty and
justice for all

Q. What special challenges/benefits do you see in being a judge in Jasper County?  
A. The specific challenges of Division 5 are the vast amount of felony criminal cases that come before that division.  Division 5 handles almost 85% of all felony cases that are filed in Jasper County.  Unlike other areas of the law the people who are charged with felonies have the potential to cause great harm on the citizens of Japer County.  Setting appropriate bonds and assessing appropriate sentences on criminal defendants is a big challenge a challenge that must be met with experience to prevent the wrong people from getting out and harming others.

Q. Why are you qualified to be a judge in Jasper County?  
A. Division 5 by design is a criminal docket. Over the past 11 years as a prosecutor for Jasper County and for the City of Carthage, I have had the honor and privilege to help those who have been harmed by the criminals in Jasper County. I have helped bring justice for our families and businesses who have been harmed by criminals.
This divisions needs a judge who knows the criminal code and criminal procedure. A judge who has not only continued to receive specific criminal law training every year for the past 11 years but who has also taught Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure at MSSU and Crowder College. A Judge who has received the endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police.
This division also serves a s a large associate Docket handling small claims and rent and possessions.  I have focused on this area of the law in my private practice representing indificual landlords, tenants and a local Bank.


Name: Joe Hensley

Q. How long have you lived in Jasper County?
A. 1973 to the present with the exception of 1991-1998 College and Law School and 1998 - 2002 Springfield.

Q. Talk about your background, family?
A. My family has lived in Jasper County for over 100 years. My grandfathers and father, Jerry Hensley, were machinists and tool-and-die makers. My mother, Lucinda Copeland, worked in clerical jobs and is married to the Hon. Richard Copeland. I am the first in my family to graduate college. I married another Jasper County native, Dina (Moore), in 2000 and we have two children (Ella (8) and Joe (6)). We attend Carterville Christian Church.

Q. How long have you been an attorney?
A. 16 years

Q. What is your speciality in your practice?
A. Litigation.

Q, Why did you want to be an attorney?
A. I was accepted into Mizzou’s law and medical schools. I chose law because I believed it better fit my interests of reading and writing.

Q. Why do you want to be a judge?
A. My favorite part of practicing law is the intellectual challenge of the job and the real opportunity to make daily changes in people’s lives. After 16 years of doing what I believe to be good work for the people of Jasper County, I feel my education and experience qualify me to try it from the other side of the bench.

Q. What makes a good judge?
A. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wrote, the “life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.” There is no substitute for a broad range of experience, both in the subject matter of the law and practicing in many types of courts and cases. Patience, creativity, and discipline are also important.

Q. What special challenges/benefits do you see in being a judge in Jasper County?
A. The challenges include the sheer number of cases filed and the time constraints in which those cases have to be disposed. The benefits are the wide variety of cases that an Associate Judge hears as a court of general jurisdiction, so it should never be dull or routine.

Q. Why are you qualified to be a judge in Jasper County?
A. I have studied Associate Circuit Courts in many counties for 16 years. In Jasper County, the caseload for Division 5, cases that could be disposed in Division 5, was 91 percent civil and 9 percent criminal last year. I have handled every type of case that could come before Division 5 for the last 16 years, whether it be civil, criminal or juvenile. I not only understand these issues from the standpoint of a lawyer and an adult, but as a child from a broken home, the “best interests of the child” standard has a very personal meaning to me, and I am passionate about it.

Q. Anything else you'd like to tell the public about you, your qualifications?
A. I was the first to announce my candidacy for the Division 5 position in Joplin a year ago. This position is neither a “stepping stone” nor a second choice for me. Like Judge Copeland, I would be honored to have this position for many years. I represent families and businesses, and I built my practice from the ground up. I would bring both experience and common sense to the disputes that affect people. Finally, I have a strong work ethic and subject only to ethical constraints, I am willing and best able to judge any case, work any docket, and hear any matter assigned to me without qualm or complaint.