The first female judge in the Jackson County Circuit Court will be retiring at the end of the year.
Judge Edith L. Messina announced her retirement on Tuesday. It will be effective Dec. 31 after 30 years of service. She will be turning 70 toward the end of the year as well, which is the state of Missouri’s mandatory retirement age for judges.
Messina was the first female appointed as circuit judge in Jackson County when assigned to Division 12 by Gov. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond in 1984.
“Being a judge is such a privilege,” Messina said in a press release. “I don’t even know what words to use to talk about how much of a privilege it is to serve.”
Messina said she initially thought of becoming a lawyer when she was a teenager, at a time when there were no female role models who were attorneys. After graduating from Avila College with a degree in English literature, she joined the Peace Corps and served in Nigeria for two years as a high school teacher. Upon returning home, she obtained a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1974.
Messina was also the first female selected by her colleagues to serve a two-year term as presiding judge of the Jackson County Circuit Court from 1998 to 2000. She was honored in 2008 with the “Dean of the Trial Bar” Award by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association for her lifelong commitment to the profession.
Most judges have a lot of curiosity, Messina said in a release, and that has led her in interesting ways. She became intrigued by a psychological disorder of one of the litigants in her courtroom and wanted more understanding of the diagnosis. So she enrolled in a psychology course at Avila College, which later led her to earn a master of science degree in counseling psychology in 2007.
“Words cannot express the loss that Judge Messina will mean to this Court,” Presiding Judge Marco A. Roldan said in the press release. “Throughout all her years on the Court, she has been a mentor to the judges on the Court, and a constant force in making this court the great court that it is.”