Gary Oxenhandler

Mediator – Arbitrator – Internal Investigator

“Judge Oxenhandler’s impeccable reputation as an intelligent, fair and thorough judge is probably why the Missouri Supreme Court chose him to hear Woodworth’s evidence.”

Guest commentary: Justice requires a new trial for Mark
Woodworth. St. Louis Post Dispatch, September 5, 2012


GaryOxenhandler, Attorney at Law

Gary Oxenhandler is a retired Circuit Court Judge. He served as Judge for Missouri’s 13th Judicial Circuit (Boone and Callaway Counties) from 2002 until 2016. Gary was first appointed by the Governor and then twice re-elected. During his years on the bench, Judge Oxenhandler served as Presiding Judge and honorarily sat with the Missouri Supreme Court.

In October 2015, the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court presented Judge Oxenhandler with the Missouri Supreme Court’s Circuit Judge Excellence Award.

In 2007, Gary created and then presided over an innovative domestic relation’s settlement conference docket. The purpose of the docket, like mediation, was to give disputing parties an opportunity to have a frank and open forum before an independent judge whose sole purpose was to guide the parties to a resolution of their disputes. By all accounts, the alternative court was highly successful. From 2007 until Gary’s retirement from the Bench in 2016, Gary conducted nearly 2,500 such settlement conferences.

While on the Bench, Gary presided over some 225 jury trials.

Those trials ranged from business disputes and discrimination claims to personal injury matters involving automobile collisions, slip and falls, products liability and medical malpractice to the most serious felonies. Along with his jury trials, Gary presided over hundreds of judge-tried cases and conducted thousands of hearings.

In 2015, Gary completed the Missouri Supreme Court Rule 17 Mediation Training for Civil Cases.

Gary grew up St. Louis. In 1968, he began law school at the University of Missouri – Columbia.

In 1969, he was drafted into the Army. After his service, he returned to law school and graduated in 1973.

For 29 years, Gary was a partner in a Mid-Missouri law practice with his best friend from 4th grade, Marvin Tofle. In his representation of clients in personal injury cases and business disputes, Gary early-on recognized the value of independent third-party guidance in resolving matters fairly and expeditiously. Gary carried that same philosophy to the Bench, encouraging and, if necessary, ordering litigants to participate in alternative dispute resolution protocols.

It is with these experiences and his desire to help parties reach fair and informed settlements that Gary offers his services as a Mediator, as an Arbitrator and as an Internal Investigator.

Gary serves as an independent Mediator. He serves as an Arbitrator as a panel member of the American Arbitration Association.

During the course of his law practice, Gary was actively involved in his community serving as President of the Boone County Bar Association; Chair of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce; Co-Chair of the City of Columbia’s Race Relations Task Force; and Chairing and serving on two Boone County, Missouri, commissions addressing overcrowding in the Boone County Jail.

While on the Bench, Gary was appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court as a member of the Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission. The Governor appointed him Chair.

After retirement, Gary served as a Senior Judge accepting assignments from the Supreme Court. When his son, Josh, opened his own firm, OxenhandlerLaw, Gary resigned his Senior Judge status so as to join Josh as Of Counsel with OxenhandlerLaw. Gary currently serves as a member of the Missouri Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Ethnic Fairness and the Supreme Court’s Work Group on Systemic Racism in the Courts.

During the course of his practice, Gary served as lead counsel in several civil rights cases involving multiple defendants.

In 1987, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mid-Missouri named Gary the Civil Libertarian of the Year.

In 1998, the University of Missouri presented him with the Human Rights Diversity Enhancement Award.

As a result of his work in the civil rights arena and the leadership roles that he played in studying race relations, local jail populations and sentencing, it was natural that Judge Oxenhandler was involved with the PEW Trust Justice Reinvestment Initiative when it came to Missouri. Through that initiative, he began to study and speak in numerous venues on his concerns about control of local jail populations and mass incarceration in the United States. Judge Oxenhandler has continued his public speaking not only on issues of incarceration but on issues of bail, social justice and implicit bias.

For all of his life, Gary has been a handball player. He grew up on the courts of St. Louis, playing with his father Lou, his brothers, Harry and Alan, and now, with his son Josh. Playing as a doubles team, he and Josh won a State Handball Championship.

In 2017, Gary was inducted into the Missouri Handball Hall of Fame.

Gary and Janet have been married for 54 years. They are very proud of their son. Gary believes that whatever he has achieved in his life has been been due to being Janet’s husband and Josh’s dad.

“Somewhere on the road between “no way” and “it ain’t gonna happen” lies the mediator’s home place.” Anonymous


Guest commentary:  Justice requires a new trial for Mark Woodworth. 

“Judge Oxenhandler’s impeccable reputation as an intelligent, fair and thorough judge is probably why the Missouri Supreme Court chose him…”

St. Louis Post Dispatch, September 5, 2012

New Study could change Boone county Jail Population

“We have to do our very best, we have to elevate our game to make sure that we are not housing anybody in that jail that doesn’t need to be in that jail,” Oxenhandler said.”

NBC news 8 KOMU

Local Coverage (+15 articles)

ABC news 17 KMIZ