Judge Joel Fahnestock was appointed to the bench on January 6, 2009. Prior to her appointment, she was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division. She began her career as Law Clerk to United States District Judge Scott O. Wright, and then she joined the law firm of Rouse, Hendricks, German, May and Shank. She later joined the law firm of Shank, Laue and Hamilton and worked nine months in the Drug Unit of the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Judge Fahnestock is a member of the Missouri Bar and several professional associations. In 2022, she was awarded the Honorable Clifford Ahrens Excellence in Technical Advancements Award by the Missouri Supreme Court for her contributions to the Missouri Court Automation Committee, the Implementation Planning Task Team (Chair), the Case Management Oversight Team, and various technology working groups. She currently serves as the chair of the 16th Judicial Circuit Technology Committee. In 2017, she was named Mentor of the Year by Missouri Lawyers Media. She was recognized for her outstanding work and contributions to the United States Attorney’s Office in both 2007 and 2008. While at UMKC School of Law, she received the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for graduating first in her class; the National Association of Women Lawyers Award; the ABA National Trial Competition Award; the Clark Boardman Callaghan Award for Exemplary Third Year Student; and several American Jurisprudence Awards. She also competed on the trial team and served as a Note Editor for the UMKC Law Review. Judge Fahnestock graduated from William Woods College, first in her class, with a Bachelor of Science degree in English Communications.