Chris Koster

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For the musician, see Chris Koster (musician).
Chris Koster
Chris Koster official portrait.jpg
41st Attorney General of Missouri
Assumed office
January 12, 2009
Governor Jay Nixon
Preceded by Jay Nixon
Personal details
Born (1964-08-31) August 31, 1964 (age 50)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Political party Democratic Party (since 2007)
Republican Party (until 2007)
Spouse(s) Single
Alma mater University of Missouri
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis University High School
Profession Attorney
Website Missouri Attorney General's Website

Campaign Website

Chris Koster (born August 31, 1964) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Missouri and is the current Attorney General of Missouri. Prior to his election as Attorney General, he had served in the Missouri Senate since 2005 representing the 31st Senatorial District as a Republican until August 1, 2007 when he switched to the Democratic Party.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Koster was born and raised in St. Louis, where he attended Saint Louis University High School. He went on to study at the University of Missouri in Columbia where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987. Four years later, he received his juris doctor degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1991. Additionally, he earned his masters in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002.

Prior to becoming a county prosecuting attorney, Koster practiced law with the Kansas City law firm of Blackwell Sanders from 1993 to 1994. He also served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Missouri Attorney General from 1991 to 1993.

Before his election to the Missouri Senate in 2004, Koster served as Prosecuting Attorney of Cass County for ten years. He was first elected prosecutor in 1994 and was subsequently reelected in 1998 and 2002 by wide margins. As prosecutor, he supervised a staff of 20 individuals dedicated to enforcing Missouri’s criminal laws in Cass County. Additionally, his office served as the civil counsel for all non-criminal matters before the county government. During his tenure, Koster supervised litigation in approximately 20,000 cases. He led investigations into many of Missouri’s most notorious criminal cases, including the investigation against serial killer John E. Robinson. He has developed extensive trial experience and has argued and won cases before the Missouri Supreme Court.

Koster also practiced law with the Law Firm of Tim Dollar in Kansas City where he specialized in the area of civil litigation. He resided in Harrisonville, Missouri.

Political career[edit]

Koster was first elected to the Missouri Senate in 2004 as a Republican. He represented Missouri's 31st Senatorial District which consists of Cass, Johnson, Bates and Vernon counties. During his time in the Missouri General Assembly, Koster played key roles in the debates over stem cell research, tort reform, and the elimination of Medicaid fraud. Additionally, in 2006 Chris successfully carried legislation in the Senate to dramatically over-haul Missouri’s eminent domain laws. He served on the following committees in the Senate:

  • Economic Development, Tourism, and Local Government
  • Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence
  • Pensions, Veterans' Affairs and General Laws
  • Commerce, Energy and the Environment
  • Agriculture, Conservation, Parks and Natural Resources

Koster champions legislation for Truth in the Missouri Court System. Currently, Koster has a bill pending (SB55) for the elimination of paternity fraud.

On August 1, 2007, Koster made Missouri political history when he announced that he was leaving the Missouri Republican Party and becoming a Democrat. Citing his longstanding differences with the Republican Party on issues like stem cell research, workers’ rights, and the non-partisan court plan, Koster said that the Missouri Republican Party had become too beholden to the extreme right-wing to lead the state of Missouri forward.[2] He commented, "Today, Republican moderates are all but extinct."[3] He is the first high-profile elected official in Missouri ever to have taken such a leap.

Before his change of parties, Koster was Chairman of the Republican Caucus, the majority party's fourth-ranking position in the Missouri State Senate.[4]

On August 5, 2008, Koster narrowly defeated State Representative Margaret Donnelly in the Democratic primary for the nomination for Missouri Attorney General. His campaign was not easily won because he had to overcome the label of "opportunist" as a result of switching parties during the '08 election. He then went on to defeat Republican State Senator Mike Gibbons in the general election, 52.83% to 47.17%.[5] He was sworn in as Attorney General on January 12, 2009, succeeding now Governor Jay Nixon.

Koster is an advocate of the death penalty, and as of July 2013, there were 21 inmates on death row in Missouri whose executions he was pressing the Supreme Court of Missouri to expedite. After the 21 inmates filed suit before the state Supreme Court against the Missouri Department of Corrections over the use of the drug propofol used in lethal injections, concerning cruel and unusual punishment, the state Supreme Court temporarily halted the further use of the death penalty until the case had been ultimately decided.[6] With Missouri law allowing for the use of other forms of the death penalty in cases where lethal injection is not available,[7] Koster has advocated the use of gas chambers to execute Missouri prisoners.[8][9][10]

Koster supports same-sex marriage, but at the same time, defends his state's constitutional ban on the it because the voters approved it.[11]

Koster's office recently defended U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry after she denied a motion for temporary restraining orders on six police officers enforcing a 5-second rule in Ferguson, MO citing the need for law enforcement's protection of property and the availability of a "free-speech zone". [12] However, at the time of this ruling the free speech zone was off-limits to the public. [13]

Electoral history[edit]

2012 Race for Attorney General of Missouri   (2012 MO SoS Election Report)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Chris Koster 1,482,381 55.81 +2.98
Republican Ed Martin 1,081,510 40.71 -6.46
Libertarian Dave Browning 92,465 3.48
2008 Race for Attorney General of Missouri
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Chris Koster 1,471,647 52.83
Republican Mike Gibbons 1,312,719 47.17


  1. ^ Sen. Chris Koster's Party Switch Press Conference YouTube, August 1, 2007
  2. ^ Andrea Chalfin, KBIA, Koster Switches Parties KWMU News, August 1, 2007
  3. ^ Kelly Wiese for AP, Likely Missouri attorney general candidate switches to Democratic Party Southeast Missourian, August 2, 2007
  4. ^ Stephanie Simon,When moderates feel lost in the GOP September 3, 2007
  5. ^ Unofficial Election Returns Missouri Secretary of State
  6. ^ Geetika Rudra (July 10, 2013). "Missouri Death Row Legal Battle Could Bring Back Gas Chamber". 
  7. ^ Matt Berman (July 11, 2013). "Death by Gas Chamber Is Still a Thing in the U.S.". 
  8. ^ Jim Salter; Associated Press (July 3, 2013). "MO. AG SAYS STATE MAY HAVE TO USE GAS CHAMBER". 
  9. ^ Eli Yokley; The Joplin Globe, Associated Press (July 13, 2013). "Attorney General Koster suggests return of gas chamber". 
  10. ^ Associated Press (July 10, 2013). "Mo. Governor Shows No Support for Gas Chamber Idea". 
  11. ^ Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster Talks SEC, Death Penalty, and Gay Marriage
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ [2]
  • Official Manual, State of Missouri, 2005-2006. Jefferson City, MO: Secretary of State.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Jay Nixon
Missouri State Attorney General