The fourth of July has a special meaning for Missouri’s top judge. The reason is in Callaway County, the unmarked and lost grave of Samuel W. Rhodes, one of hundreds of George Washington’s soldiers who came to the frontier decades after the Revolutionary War. His great-great-great-great granddaughter is state Supreme Court chief justice Mary Rhodes Russell, who worries that people don’t think of the kind of court system we might have today were it not for those who signed the Declaration of Independence and the people like Samuel Rhodes, who fought for that independence. “We still would have had the King controlling the court. Decisions made by judges would potentially be overruled by the monarch or they would be directed by the Monarch. There would be no independence of the judicial branch at all,” she says.

But because of the courage of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the hundreds of soldiers who won that independence on the battlefield, Missourians have a fair and impartial courts system working to achieve equal justice for all.

  AUDIO: Russell interview 9:06

(On the Missourinet blog today we have judge Russell reading this month’s reflection on the Declaration of Independence and its value to the judicial system today)