MISSOURI — The search is underway to name a new judge for the Missouri Appeals Court, and it could be someone from Southwest Missouri.

Judge Joe Hensley is one of the candidates to fill a vacancy in the Southern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals. He’s been an Associate Circuit Judge in Jasper County since 2015 — and spent 17 years before that primarily in private practice.

He’s one of three Southwest Missouri candidates, out of a list of 17. Associate Circuit Judge Alan Blankenship and Circuit Judge David Cole are both out of the 39th Circuit and cover Lawrence, Barry and Stone counties.

There are two vacancies to fill, with the retirements of Judge Gary Lynch and Judge William Francis, Jr.