Jeff Harris: Experience, Judgment, Leadership
Jeff Harris was appointed by Governor Jay Nixon to succeed Judge Gary Oxenhandler as circuit judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit. He took the bench on April 25. Harris is currently serving his first full term on the court, following his election in November 2016.
Harris, 51, served for seven years as Policy Director in the Missouri Governor’s Office under Gov. Nixon. He represented Boone County in the Missouri legislature from 2003-2009, rising through the ranks to become Democratic Leader of the House. Harris is believed to be the first Boone Countian to lead either party in the Missouri House since the 19th Century.
Prior to his election to the House, Harris served as an Assistant Attorney General, where he represented governmental entities, including high-profile cases involving statewide elected officials from both parties. He previously served as a private-sector attorney at the law firm of Atwill & Montgomery in Columbia and at Bryan Cave LLP in Kansas City, where he handled complex litigation in state and federal courts across the country. Harris has taught continuing legal education (CLE) classes to fellow attorneys, authored a law review note as well as publications accompanying CLE classes.
Harris was born and raised in Columbia before earning his B.A., magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University in 1987, and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. He held a clerkship with Chief Judge William Barbour of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. He was a member of the Board of Editors of the Cornell Law Review and completed the Senior Executive Program at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 2005.
Harris, who served on the Columbia CrimeStoppers Board of Directors through 2016, lives with his wife Katie and children Grace and Ted in Columbia. They are members of the Missouri United Methodist Church. Harris’s father, Robert, is a longtime pediatrician in Columbia, while his mother Jerry and sister Julie (Harris) Shaw both taught at Fulton High School in Callaway County.