Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed an Eastern Jackson County man as a new Jackson County circuit court judge.

Jeffrey C. Keal of Blue Springs has been named the new associate circuit judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit Court, which covers Jackson County. Keal replaces Vernon Scoville III, who recently retired.

Keal has served as an assistant prosecutor with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office in Independence since 1991, overseeing the criminal traffic unit. Through that unit, he implemented the Youthful Traffic Offenders Program to curb speeding, texting while driving and drunken driving by teen drivers.

Keal also established an education court in Eastern Jackson County, making Fort Osage High School the first one in the program. The program’s goal is to work with parents and guardians to keep children in school in an effort to prevent crime.

“Jeff Keal has extensive experience and skills in many areas of the law that the Associate Circuit Court oversees,” Nixon said in a press release. “The citizens of Jackson County will benefit from having that experience and those skills on the bench.”

Before joining the Prosecutor’s Office, Keal ran a private law practice for five years. Keal earned undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is also active in his church and supports youth sports in Eastern Jackson County.

Keal was one of three applicants submitted to Nixon for consideration for the post by the 16th Circuit Judicial Commission.