Saying he want his successor to be appointed under the Nonpartisan Court Plan, Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price Jr. on Monday announced his resignation from the high court, effective Aug. 1.
"It has been my honor and joy to serve on the Supreme Court of Missouri for the past 20 years," Price told Gov. Jay Nixon and Chief Justice Richard Teitelman in a letter dated Monday.
"I am especially proud of the many Missouri judges with whom I have served and their commitment to the fair and impartial administration of justice."
Price joined the high court in April 1992, the sixth of then-Gov. John Ashcroft's seven appointees to the court during his eight years as governor.
Price was the last member of the so-called "Ashcroft court" remaining on the state's Supreme Court, and served as its chief justice for two, two-year terms - July 1, 1999-June 30, 2001, and again from July 1, 2009-June 30, 2011.
He also served as chairman of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
In his letter, he said he intends to return to private law practice.
Under the Nonpartisan plan, a seven-member commission will meet this fall, interview applicants who want to succeed Price on the court, then submit three names to Nixon for his appointment.
If the governor doesn't choose one of those three within 60 days, the commission makes the appointment.
Voters in November will be given a chance to modify the system.