Governor Bob Holden appointed John M. Torrence as circuit judge in July 2001. Judge Torrence was a partner with the Kansas City firm of Hubbell, Sawyer, Peak, O'Neal & Napier from 1993 until his appointment to the bench. Prior to that, he was a partner in the firm of Torrence and Wee from 1988 - 1993. He also served in the Jackson County Public Defender's Office from 1982 - 1988, where he was a trial team leader from 1985 - 1988.

He earned his bachelor's degree in history from St. Louis University in 1979, and his law degree from the University of Missouri - Kansas City in 1982.

In 2010, Judge Torrence was honored by Missouri Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer with the ASTAR Award (Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resources). The award is given to judges who have taken 120 hours of court related science and technology classes. In addition, Judge Torrence was given the 2016 Honorable H. Michael Coburn Community Service Award by Legal Aid of Western Missouri in recognition of his work to improve the outcomes of children in foster care while he served as Administrative Judge at Family Court in 2014 and 2015. Judge Torrence was elected by his colleagues to serve as Presiding Judge of the Circuit Court of Jackson County in 2017 and 2018.