Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard Teitelman dies

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.- A Missouri Supreme Court judge died on Tuesday. Judge Richard Teitelman served on the court since March 2002 and was chief justice from July 2011 through June 2013. Before joining the Supreme Court, he served on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, for four years.

Because of Teitelman's death, the court cancelled oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Gov. Jay Nixon ordered that the flags at all Missouri courts be lowered immediately to half staff to honor the life and service of Teitelman. The flags will remain at half staff through the day of the funeral, which had not been set by Tuesday afternoon. On the day of the funeral, flags at all state facilities also will be flown at half staff.

Statement from Nixon:

“Missourians have lost a judicial leader who dedicated his life over more than four decades in service to the people of this state and to our legal system, both as a Judge of the Missouri Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals and during a long career with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. Judge Teitelman will be remembered not only for his breaking new ground as the first legally blind judge to sit on Missouri’s highest court, but also for his legal skills and his passion for justice. He truly listened to, and never forgot, those who needed justice the most. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

Statement from Michael Barrett, director of the Missouri State Public Defender system:

“Today Missouri lost a great champion for the poor and marginalized. We pause to honor his service, not just as an accomplished jurist of the State’s highest court, but as a humble and committed public servant."

Statement from Gov.-elect Eric Greitens:

"Today we mourn the passing of Supreme Court Judge Richard Teitelman. He dedicated his life to the service of Missourians and was deeply committed to justice. Judge Teitelman was a trailblazer, serving as both the first Jewish and first legally blind jurist on our state's highest court. His life serves as a reminder to every Missourian that nothing should stand in the way of passionate public service. He was a man known for his kindness and warm spirit, and he will be greatly missed.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends, colleagues, and family."

Statements from Senate leaders:

“I was saddened to hear the news today of the passing of Missouri Supreme Court Justice Richard Teitelman. As one of the Court’s senior justices, we are thankful for the years of service he gave to the Supreme Court and Missouri. He will be missed." - Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin
District 32

“I was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Judge Teitelman. His long and distinguished service to the state of Missouri will be missed, as he will be missed. We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.” - Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City
District 6


Teitelman's resume, from Missouri Supreme Court:

Dates of judicial service:

-- Appointed to Supreme Court of Missouri in February 2002 and retained in office at the November 2004 general election for a 12-year term expiring December 31, 2016
-- Served a two-year term as chief justice from July 2011 through June 2013
-- Previously served on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, January 1998 to February 2002


-- Bachelor of Arts (major - mathematics), 1969
-- Juris Doctor, 1973

Prior employment:

-- Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, St. Louis
Executive director and general counsel, April 1980 to January 1998
Managing attorney, November 1976 to April 1980
Staff attorney, Consumer Unit, June 1975 to November 1976
-- Solo general practitioner, May 1974 to January 1975

Professional memberships and activities:

Judicial Conference
Member, Executive Council, 2007-2008
Conference of Chief Justices
Elected, Second Vice-President of the Board of Directors, 2012
The Missouri Bar:
Member; president-elect; vice president
Member, Administrative Committee
Member, Board of Governors
Executive committee, Board of Governors
Chair, Special Committee for the Client Security Fund Consumer Law Committee
Chair, Delivery of Legal Services Committee
Co-chair, Disabled, Minority and Diversity Committee, Young Lawyers' Section
Editorial board member, Journal of The Missouri Bar
Member, Federal Practice Committee
Charter member, Fellows Program of Missouri Bar Foundation
Member, Finance Committee
Member, Gender and Justice Committee
Member, Young Lawyers' Section Council
American Bar Association:
Appointed to Standing Commitee on Pro Bono and Public Service, 2007
Appointed to Appellate Judicial Network Steering Committee, 2007
Appointed to Judicial Division, Standing Committee on Minorities in the Judiciary, 2007
Member, Appellate Judicial Division – Minority Clerkship Program
Lifetime sustaining fellow of the American Bar Foundation
Member, House of Delegates
Past chair, Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law
Served on peer consultation project of the Center for Pro Bono
Participant, Judicial Clerkship Program, 2010
Member, Senior Lawyer Division
Chair, Diversity Committee
National Italian American Bar Association – elected parliamentarian
Sustaining member, Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis:
Past president; president-elect; vice president; secretary and member-at-large
ABA Delegate
Member, Administrative Law Committee
Member, Blue Ribbon Justice Committee and the Public Information Committee
Sustaining member of the Cornerstone Campaign
Member, Federal Practice Committee
Member, Finance Committee
Member, Government and Public Sector Lawyers Committee
Chair, Trial Section
Chair, vice chair and secretary of the Young Lawyers Section
President, vice president and secretary of the St. Louis Bar Foundation
Charter member, Fellows of the St. Louis Bar Foundation
Cole County Bar Association
Eighth Circuit Bar Association
Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (sustaining member)
Lawyers Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
Missouri Asian Bar Association
Hispanic Bar Association of St. Louis
Mound City Bar Association
Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association
Women Lawyers Association
Other professional activities:
American Blind Lawyers Association
American Judicature Society – lifetime member, past vice president, executive committee of the board of directors
Appointed to Program Committee for 2008
Served on the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, advisory group to study issues relating to the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990
Board member, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Missouri Supreme Court Advisory Committee
Disciplinary hearing officer
Member, Institute of Judicial Administration of New York University
Member, NAACP Awards Committee St. Louis Chapter
Lifetime member, National Legal Aid and Defenders Association; also a member of the association's civil committee
Past member of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and the National Conference of Bar Foundations
Past member, board of trustees, National Conference of Bar Foundations
Past member, Southern Conference of Bar Presidents

Civic and charitable activities:

African-American/Jewish Task Force
American Foundation for the Blind – Midwest regional board member
Council for State Governments – 2003 Toll Fellowship Program
Jewish Community Relations Council
Leadership St. Louis
Midtown Redevelopment Corporation – past board member
Missouri State Historical Society
National Federation of the Blind, Lawyers Division
St. Louis Public Library – board member and chair of administrative affairs committee
Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, lifetime member

Honors and awards:

2016 Donald P. Lay Champion for Justice in the Workplace Award – Eighth National Employer Lawyers Association
Saint Louis University School of Law 2009 Clarance Darrow Award
The Missouri Bar's Spurgeon Smithson Award, 2009
Award of Honor – The Lawyer’s Association of St. Louis
Award of Merit – Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, Young Lawyers Section
Award of Merit – National Conference of Metropolitan Courts
Democracy in Action Award – American Jewish Congress
Difference Makers Award – ABA Young Lawyers Division, Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
Distinguished Alumni Award – Founders Day Celebration, Washington University, St. Louis
Distinguished Non-Alumni Award – University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law
Durward K. McDaniel Award – American Council of the Blind
Henry Sutton Award in Governmental Affairs – Historical Society of St. Louis
Hodson Award for Public Service – ABA Division of Government and Public Sector Lawyers
Honorary Initiate to the Order of the Coif – Washington University, St. Louis
Honorary Dean – Saint Louis University School of Law's DuBourg Society
Legal Service Award – Mound City Bar Association
President's Award – The Missouri Bar
Purcell Award for Professionalism – The Missouri Bar
St. Louis Bar Foundation Award
Lifetime Achievement Award – St. Louis Society for the Blind
Good Guy Award – Women's Legal Caucus
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri has created an award in honor of Judge Teitelman to recognize an outstanding lawyer in its volunteer program. The "Richard B. Teitelman Distinguished Service Award" first was presented in May 2008.

Additional information:

-- Publications for The Missouri Bar:
Member, project committee, and an editor of the Consumer Law and Practice Handbook
Member, planning committee, and an editor of the Handicapped, Low-Income and Elderly Persons Law Handbook
Co-authored several consumer law articles about debt collection and management

-- Other publications:
Plain Language Laws: Giving the Consumer an Even Break, 14 Clearinghouse Review 522 (Oct. 1980). Co-authored with Michael Ferry of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
Numerous law articles published in the St. Louis Daily Record in the 1970s

-- Judge Teitelman is the first legally blind and first Jewish judge to serve on Missouri’s highest court