After coaching basketball for several seasons was not giving him the fulfillment he wanted, David Peppard had some soul searching to do. Teaching and coaching was his career choice, but five years of winning records and awards did not scratch the itch he had. There had to be something more.
“What could I be doing to make a better world?” was the question he kept coming back to in his mind. The answer came in an acceptance letter from the University of Missouri School of Law. Now a candidate for Division One circuit judge serving Andrew and Buchanan Counties, Peppard practiced law for over 25 years. He has handled thousands of cases in his career, with the majority of them being family and civil law cases.
“I took the law school admissions test just to see if I was competitive. I scored higher than I expected and suddenly becoming a lawyer felt real to me,” said Peppard. “A legal career turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done with my life. I’ve made a difference for a lot of people and that made me a happier person. The cases I do sometimes change lives. I know what I’m doing matters.”
Born and raised in St. Joseph, Mo., the Lafayette High School graduate went to Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., for college and graduate school. His first jobs after college were teaching high school English and journalism and coaching basketball and volleyball. Having dealt with a free speech issue involving a student, Peppard became more interested in how the law effects everyday people.
After graduating from MU law school in 1992, he started a private law practice in St. Joseph and served as an assistant city attorney/prosecutor for five years. “I often represented the City in civil court cases and was staff counsel for several departments and a fill-in prosecutor in municipal court. I learned a lot in that job,” he said.
Peppard now has his law office in downtown St. Joseph. He is vice-president of the St. Joseph Downtown Association, a charter member of the local Ancient Order of Hibernians division, active in the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, and he still coaches youth basketball. His team of Savannah High School students won their league division last summer.
“The last few years, I’ve thought that I could use my experience in a different way by serving as a judge. Division One handles civil litigation and family law matters – such as divorces, paternity cases, and protection order requests. I have extensive experience in those areas of law. It made sense to run for this position when the prior Division One judge retired,” Peppard said.