Governor Mike Parson appointed former Democrat state representative Mike Colona to the bench as an associate circuit judge on Friday, October 18.
As an attorney, Colona’s application for the post shows he lost 6 of the 10 cases he listed, settled one case and his client accepted a plea deal in another case. In fact, he won only two cases of the 10: an expungement action and a challenge to an administrative SATOP assessment.
Colona’s legislative biography reveals he was an active member of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA), the association of plaintiff’s attorneys that opposes nearly all business tort reform measures. As a legislator, Colona won the 2012 Champion of Justice Award from MATA, according to his application.
Colona’s voting record on tort reform measures shows why he may have received that award.
In 2015 and 2016, his final two legislative sessions, Colona voted against legislation Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) supported that would have:
- allowed enforcement of arbitration agreements in employment contracts;
- restored the federal standard of proving discrimination cases to require discrimination to be the “motivating factor” in the alleged discriminatory action;
- restored punitive damage caps in medical malpractice lawsuits;
- allowed recovery of only the amount actually paid for healthcare services, rather than amounts billed by healthcare providers; and,
- established the same criteria for evaluating expert witnesses as is used in federal courts in Missouri and in state courts in many other states.
Colona’s voting record was consistent on legal matters for his entire 8 year career – and always against the position taken by business advocacy groups like AIM. Colona’s record on other business issues was just as bad, leading to a total average voting score of 18/100 in AIM vote ratings for 2015/2016.
The appointment of an associate circuit judge is important as it may begin a judge’s ascent to higher courts. Missouri Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer was an associate circuit judge for two years before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in October 2008 by Governor Matt Blunt.
Most recently, Colona was the managing attorney of the law firm Colona & Gentle, LLC, according to the press announcement from the governor’s office.