Christian County’s newest judge took a ceremonial oath of office and celebrated her new role in the court system with family and friends.

Associate Circuit Judge Jessica Kruse had already been on the job for about a week where her ceremonial swearing in ceremony happened Sept. 14 at the Christian County Justice Center. Still, she said she was happy to celebrate the occasion with her family and with the people who supported her during her campaign for judge.

“I’ve come through a lot to get here and I’m proud of that. There is some apprehension, just learning something new and going from private practice and sadness in closing that door, and happiness in opening a new door. It’s mixed emotions, but there is also excitement to just get in there and get started,” Kruse said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson appointed Kruse as an associate circuit judge for Christian County, clearing the way for her to be sworn in on Sept. 14.

Kruse won the August Republic primary election for the position and is running unopposed in the November general election. Parson’s appointment of Kruse allows her to step into the courtroom earlier than planned to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Larry Luna.

Luna administered Kruse’s oath of office. It was actually the second time for Kruse to take the oath. She was quickly sworn in about a week prior to Sept. 14, in order for her to hear a docket of cases and to begin work setting up her office.

Circuit Judge Laura Johnson pointed out that Kruse will be responsible for handling family law and juvenile cases, which Johnson said is a difficult docket.

“It requires really a special touch, and (Kruse) will have that touch and be able to treat those people with dignity and handle those juveniles with care. I just feel 100 percent confident that she is going to do a great job,” Johnson said.

Christian County Circuit Judge Jennifer Growcock and Associate Circuit Judge Doug Bacon also attended Kruse’s swearing in event. Kruse said the Christian County judges are among several to welcome her into her new profession.

“What I’ve found is that all judges, really from the state, are available and willing to answer questions, and so if I come across something that I haven’t encountered before or just want to make sure, I know I have a sounding board to ask them to make sure I’m thinking along the right lines,” Kruse said.

In the August primary, Kruse won 7,936 votes to Ron Cleek’s 4,601, collecting 63.3 percent of the overall vote to win the Republican nomination for Division III associate circuit judge in Christian County.

Judge Luna served as associate circuit judge for the 38th circuit for the past 11 years. Luna reached the age of 70 in June and retired. Missouri law does not allow judges to serve past that age.

Kruse, of Nixa, has practiced law since 2006. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law and her Bachelor of Science degree from then-Southwest Missouri State University.

Kruse is involved in the Christian County community as a member of the Ozark Rotary Club, Ozark Care to Learn, and the Ozark Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Her professional service includes serving as the chair of the Elder Law Committee for the Missouri Bar, and she is the past president of the Missouri Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  

Kruse is also active in the Christian County Bar Association.

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